How to cure a child of interrupt-itis

  • Article by: CHICAGO TRIBUNE
  • Updated: April 14, 2012 - 1:56 PM

Your child interrupts any conversation that doesn't include him or her. What do you do?

How to cure a child of interrupt-itis

Your 6-year-old interrupts any conversation that doesn't include her. Let's assume she's getting ample attention and just can't fathom why you'd have a conversation without her.

"Usually kids aren't trying to be rude or disrespectful; they just want you," said Mary O'Donohue, author of "When You Say 'Thank You,' Mean It." "It helps to allow them to switch places and see how it feels."

She has hammered this particular lesson home with her daughter during one of the family's frequent manners-based drills.

"We try to turn respect from an abstract concept into something real ... that you can use in life -- so it's not just, 'Be respectful!' as they head out the door.

"I tell my daughter, 'Today, I'm going to show you what it's like when I'm not using respectful behavior,'" she said.

The drill goes something like this:

Mom: "How was your day at school?"

Daughter: "We had a test in science and -- "

Mom: "Oh! I went shopping today!"

Daughter: "OK, so I had this test ... "

Mom: "And I found this great new bag!"

"She knows we're doing this as an exercise," O'Donohue said. "But when I ask how it makes her feel, she says, 'It feels like I'm not important to you. It feels like you don't care what I have to say.'

"Then I ask her to tell me about her day, and I just listen and wait and save my comments for the end. And I tell her, 'The first one is what it feels like to be disrespected. The second one is what it feels like to be respected. Which one do you like better?"

Her child, of course, likes "respected."

"So does everybody else," O'Donohue said, laughing.

 

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