Please Don't Interrupt!: Ask Mrs Manners

Cynthia Dermody

teaching toddlers to interrupt politely

Photo by Punkylu78

The toddler years are the perfect age to start teaching your kids manners and good habits. And MrsManners aka: Angela Pitre, owner of the CM group Manners for the Modern Family and, is here to help.

Dear MrsManners:

How do I teach my 4 year old not to interrupt me when I'm talking to my husband, my friend, or to someone on the phone? I swear, she will ignore me for hours but the minute I pick up the phone ... zoom. Like a magnet she's at my heels with some kind of non-urgent request. It drives me crazy, and I end up snapping at her. Help! -- anonymous

MrsManners says:

This is a 4-step process. Just remember that interrupting is normal and to try to be patient!

1. Teach your child that the only time it's okay interrupt you is for an emergency, such as he needs a bathroom and can't hold it or someone is hurt, etc. Then you have to decide what types of things constitute an "emergency" and explain them to him. 

2. Make sure he always begin an interruption with "Excuse me, Mom," or "Excuse me, Dad."

3. Invent a non-verbal signal that you can use when your child interrupts that will let him know you acknowledge him and love him, but you are busy at the moment and will help him as soon as possible. As soon as you are free, tend to his needs first thing, before you do anything else, and remind him that next time he should try to wait until you hang up the phone or finish your conversation.

4. Set up a plan on how to interrupt. If your child gently tugs your arm while you are on the phone, you then hold your finger up to him like a Number One. Any type of signal will work -- cover your heart with your hand, cross your heart, make a funny face, wink. This tells him you promise to get right back to him.


Angie aka MrsManners

Got a question for MrsManners? Ask it here! And check back every Tuesday for her answers.


Past Ask Mrs Manners columns:

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Should Kids Be Forced to Share Toys?

Winging the Pacifier

Should Parents Say 'Thank You'?

Toddlers Eating Everything

Throwing-Obsessed Toddlers

Are You a Hypocrite?

Pushy Toddlers

Taming the Messy Eater

How to Have Well Behaved Toddlers

My Son Won't Stop Touching Other Moms' Breasts!

Is Shyness Impolite?

Stop Peer Pressure Early

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