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How can I keep my children from interrupting others?

Reshma Shah, MD
Pediatrics

I find that the common answer of simply ignoring the interrupting behavior doesn't work. In my experience, the child will continue to interrupt unless they have the tools to act differently. Children are very keen on getting their needs met immediately, so unless they understand that interrupting is not acceptable, they may just view it as the easiest way for them to get a snack or ask for a toy.

A terrific way to teach your child about how not to interrupt is to role play. Pick a quiet time when it's just the two of you. Explain to your child that when someone is in the middle of a conversation, it is not polite to interrupt. Review the behavior you would prefer your child to have, such as waiting for a pause in the conversation or saying "excuse me". Then, role play a situation where you put these lessons into action. Change up the scenarios, add humor, and make it fun. 

When you find yourself in a situation where your child is interrupting after you have tried out the role playing session, wait for a pause in the conversation, get down to your child's level, and quietly explain the "interrupting rules". You may have to do this several times before your child replicates the behavior, and when she does, make sure you let her know you appreciated her patience.

 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.