- Start an anti-interruption campaign: Teach your children to wait for a pause in the conversation before interjecting with, “Excuse me.” If they forget, gently reminder them of the rules: “Chelsea, I understand that you’re anxious to tell me something, but remember how we talked about saying, ‘Excuse me’ before cutting in?” When they do remember to do this, don’t be shy about heaping on the praise. If you’re patient and consistent, the lesson will eventually sink in.
- Set reasonable goals: Children at a certain age probably can’t hold their thoughts for more than a few minutes. So ask them to help you come up with some signals that’ll allow you to work together when they need your attention: Placing your hand on your child’s head might mean “I see that you need me”; two raised fingers could signify “I’ll be with you in two minutes” etc.
- Get phone-smart: When you need to make a call, ask your children, “Is there anything you need before I get busy? Can you please play with your puzzles so you won’t interrupt me?” Then try to be true to your estimate and cut the call short if it goes on too long.
- Siblings count too. If your children are learning the art of appropriate and inappropriate interruption, they should apply it to their brothers or sisters. If your child repeatedly cuts a sibling off, talk to her about it in private.
- Hang in there. Your children may be entering an age in which you can expect them to be courteous and considerate more often than not. But they will backslide from time to time. Don’t get discouraged — just keep gently hammering those lessons home.
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