I have two daughters. Even from a young age, girls seem to just want to talk and socialize. It’s our gifting, I guess. I love that. But there is a time and a place to talk.
My job as a parent is to teach my children not to interrupt but to have manners. If I was talking to their father, another adult, or on the telephone – I didn’t want my children to interrupt me. I did however, want them to know they were still important and I cared a lot about listening to their thoughts and concerns.
We came up with the “interrupt rule.” Anytime I was talking to someone else or on the telephone and my girls had something they wanted to say to me, they would come up to me and gently lay a hand on my shoulder or leg. That was our hidden signal that they wanted mommy’s attention. But the deal was, that they might have to wait a few minutes before they could get it. They would touch me and then stand by my side until a break in the conversation, or until I felt I could turn to them and listen to their request or comment. For me, it was a great way to help my children not feel ignored. It was a quiet signal between us that didn’t disrupt the current conversation.
It worked. In fact, for my young children, it worked remarkably well. On my part, I would turn my face to them as soon as I could as a “reward” for not interrupting me but remembering to have manners and use our little signal. On their part, I think it simply helped them to be able to tell me they needed to talk to me. That urge can be so strong in a child! They knew I would turn my attention to them as soon as I could and if too much time went on and it was really important, they’d gently lay their hand on me again as a reminder. I tried to never have them wait too long, however, for children only have the patience of a child…not the patience of an adult!
The “interrupt rule” worked well for our daughters’ younger years. Sometimes it just takes a little creativity and some intuition to bridge the gap in parent-child communication. Oh yah – and a whole lot of love.