I’m writing about this because I haven’t taught this to my son yet and lately, he has really picked up on his verbal skills. This also means he has been interrupting me a lot while I’m talking to other adults. Time to change that.
I first came across this idea in a mom blog. Maybe this one? I can’t remember where I read it first, but I decided to try it when my daughter was much younger, and it has worked with great success! She knows not to interrupt when I’m talking with someone else, and will quietly signal a need to talk, wait patiently, and know that I will give her my full attention soon.
So here’s what it can actually look like if you’ve got your child trained to do this. A few months ago (when I started this post), we were at the playground after school, chatting with another mom:
“So do your kids do wishlists or anything for Christmas?” I asked.
“No… they have enough toys, and I don’t think they know how to ask for things yet,” she replied.
“That’s true! I also thought we had more than enough toys–and we do, we really do–but his teacher started talking about these must have toys to buy for Christmas,” I started, watching my daughter swing on the monkey bars, “But then–“
“MOMMY!” my daughter shouted, scampering towards us. I gave her a look and keep talking.
“–But then,” I repeated, “after the teacher started going on and on about how great it was for imaginary play…”
My daughter quietly walked up to me and grabbed my hand. Without missing a beat, I put my other hand over hers and gave her a gentle squeeze, while still talking, “I started looking them up on Amazon… and now there’s all this stuff in my cart!”
“Oh, like what?” my friend asked, looking at me with interest.
“A cash register… a big cardboard house they can color and play in… a marble run, flashlights, walkie talkie,” I say, then turn to my daughter, “Thanks for waiting. What do you need?”
“Mommy, can I play over by the tree?” she asks, pointing off to the distance.
And she was off.
She didn’t do a rushing jittery dance or look at me with pleading hurry up! eyes. There was no tugging of my arm or exasperated sighs (all tactics 5 year old JoEllen was very familiar with). Just a patient little thing, knowing I would soon give her a moment with my full attention.
It’s possible! I’ll have to train the younger one intentionally, as I did his big sister, but it’s possible! If you have kids interrupting your conversations, try walking them through these steps and rehearsing it ahead of time:
Your child could put their hand on your shoulder or knee or whatever makes sense for their height or age. If you can practice a few times before you actually need it again, you’ll be surprised how well they can execute when reminded in real life!
P.S. Of all the toys, the marble run was by far the best investment. And I probably won’t buy the cardboard house again. It was a cute gingerbread house, but took up too much space, and the kids are more happy right now with a floppy makeshift cardboard house from big boxes anyway. The cash register is still in the cart.