How to teach kids not to interrupt?

My kids are fabulous. Yours are too, I bet. But let’s be candid, they have some habits that are a bit annoying — or drive you completely daft! — and it’d be nice to have a way to teach them to grow beyond those behaviors.

With my kids the habit that’s driving me a bit nutty is that they interrupt when someone else is talking. Sometimes they interrupt each other, but often they interrupt me. Frustrating, to say the least, and the littlest, K-, who just turned seven, gets a thought in her head and has to push it out into the world regardless of what’s going on or who is talking. It drives everyone, including her siblings, crazy.

Candidly, what makes this hard is that I also interrupt people all the time. Yes, including my kids…

My excuse is that my brain is running at such a clip that I can make an assumption about where they’re going and make the conversation faster and more efficient by just summarizing what they’re going to say (or, more likely, what I think they’re going to say but probably aren’t) and then answer.

Even writing it makes me sound like a bit of a doofus, but really, what’s your explanation for when you interrupt someone during a discussion?

Interrupting is definitely not my most endearing habit from their perspective, I’ll tell you, and it’s no surprise that it drives me a bit batty when they get into the interruption habit too.

I know, I can hear you, if I want them to stop interrupting, I need to stop interrupting, because kids model what we do, not what we say.

Of course. I know that.

But darn if it’s not a difficult habit to break! Even with my friends I feel like I interrupt them more than they interrupt me. I think I get where my kids are coming from: if I have a brilliant insight or witty aside, I want to get it out into the discussion where it can be admired and me, by extension, honored for being so darn nimble and witty.

I really want to teach my kids not to interrupt people when they’re in a conversation, and to do that I need to teach myself how to dial this all back too. So, dear reader, what useful and helpful suggestions do you have for us?

5 comments on “How to teach kids not to interrupt?

  1. Part of it is personality. Part is learned behavior. Part is just being a kid and part especially for the younger siblings is competition to be heard.
    My grand daughter also interrupts….
    she is used to being the center of attention all the time….. at home with her parents and grandparents.
    Now that I have another grandchild she is in competition….
    So it makes it somewhat worse.
    Still she is in kindergarten this year and seems to be doing well in that setting …..

  2. Hi George-
    This can be super frustrating, especially if you find yourself doing just as much interrupting as your kids.
    My suggestion is to sit down and talk with your kids about interrupting. Define what interrupting is and give examples. Talk about how YOU want to change to be more respectful of them and want them to also practice respect to you and others. You can make a game out of it and enlist your kids to help keep you accountable.
    I’m sure they will LOVE letting Dad know when he slipped back into interrupting 🙂 I would also spend a lot of effort to catch your kids when they ARE respectful and don’t interrupt. Give more energy to the positive behavior you are seeking to foster than the interrupting.
    One thing that has worked well with my boys is when they want to tell me something, I have them put their hand on my arm. Then I know they want to tell me something and they know I will look at them and listen when I am ready.
    Good luck!

  3. I’ve read a few of your blogs. Nice. I noticed that you call yourself a single dad. If you’re divorced, then you call yourself a divorced dad. That helps differentiate between those who are single – as in never marrying – and those who did marry and got divorced. Just trying to clariy.

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