Quick TipHow to Handle Impulsive Interruptions

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!

    1. When your child approaches and wants to say something, teach her to put her hand on your arm to get your attention.
    2. Put your hand on her hand to acknowledge her, letting her know that she'll get your attention soon.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.)
    5. 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.
    6. 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.

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