How to get your kid to stop interrupting!

Waiting for their turn to speak can be difficult for kids. Learn how to help your child master this skill!

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Ever tried to hold a conversation with another adult, only to find your mini-me constantly calling for your attention, or trying to pull you away?

Maybe this is a common scene at the dinner table where all three of your kids are fighting to get a word in ― each one interrupting the other, so they end up quibbling.

Interrupting is common in children, because they forget that someone else’s need may be more urgent than their own. Since they often live in the moment, when they feel the need to say something, they need to say it right then and there!

Daniel Koh, a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre, says that kids interrupt for various reasons, “It ranges from being excited, to trying to grab attention or control and trying to have their say, to having poor social skills”.

Poor social skills include not being able to take turns, being rude and disrespectful to others, or a behavioural disorder to “not care what others have or wanting to shut others up”.

Younger kids and toddlers in particular, feel the need to participate in our conversations, and want to show us that they “belong”.

Since one of the main reasons that kids interrupt is to get their parents attention, it’s important for them to know that you’re there when they need you.

In addition, kids from a more talkative family may be more likely to interrupt. Children with conditions like ADHD also tend to interrupt more, because they have more difficulty controlling their impulses. They may not even realise that they are interrupting, and that their behaviour disturbs others. Koh adds that it’s not a good thing to interrupt, as it can reflect how others see the child.

You might have already tried time and time again to teach junior when he can interrupt (in an emergency) and when it’s not (when he’s bored, for instance), but instilling proper behavior isn’t easy.

Also, constantly interrupting can become a habit if the behaviour is not corrected, says Koh. “Many children these days have more authority, and parents tend to give in. So, they may become more daring ― and such behaviour can spread to other social settings and in schools,” he says.

Here are ways you can teach junior not to interrupt.

1. Reassure them that you are there

Since one of the main reasons that kids interrupt is to get their parents attention, it’s important for them to know that you’re there when they need you.

Let them know which situations are deemed to be emergencies, and those that aren’t. Tell your kids that if they need you, you’ll be there for them. For example, if someone is sick or hurt, like if a sibling has fallen down, you want to be interrupted. It’s important that they not fear getting into trouble like being scolded when they interrupt you if they truly need you.