As we all know all too well, impulsivity and interruptions are a big challenge with our kids.
This strategy works like a charm for ages 4 and up. It even works with teenagers!
- When your child approaches and wants to say something, teach her to put her hand on your arm to get your attention.
- Put your hand on her hand to acknowledge her, letting her know that she'll get your attention soon.
- Find the quickest stopping point you can to say “Excuse me,” and turn your attention to your child - briefly! Giving quick though brief access to you will help her wait more patiently.
- You don't have to engage whatever your child wants, yet, just listen to a quick summary of what she wants to tell you. (It's okay to remind her to bottom line it or make it quick.)
- After you hear what she wants, ask her to wait for a moment. Turn back to your original activity -- continue talking or whatever you were doing.
- Again, as soon as you can comfortably do it, turn your attention back to your child. This time, either address the issue, or set up a clear time when you will be available to address her need or concern.
I know this sounds complicated, but it's really quite simple. The key ideas here are:
- Anticipate that interruptions are going to happen.
- Agree in advance on a way to handle them together.
- Show your child that you intend to be attentive to her needs (putting your hand on hers).
- Teach your child to wait patiently by gradually increasing the time she waits.