One of the most common frustrations of parenting a preschooler is keeping your temper whenever your child “hijacks” a conversation you were having with another adult. A rambunctious young one will do just about anything to get mom’s attention.
Remember, at a young age, a child sees the world as revolving around him. It’s also why it’s developmentally normal for tots and preschoolers to have trouble with sharing toys. “They are not selfish, but rather egocentric. At this stage, kids’ only reality is themselves. Everything is directed at themselves,” Brian Vincent Calibo, school coordinator of Playgym, Britesparks International School, and Fastrack Kids, told Smart Parenting.
In the case of interrupting, they’re having trouble sharing your attention. “Kids this age crave their parents’ attention, and they haven’t yet learned that there are times when it’s not appropriate or possible for parents to provide it,” parent educator told Beverley Cathcart-Rosstold Today’s Parent.
Often, it’s too easy to give in to irritation and let out a sharp shush or “what!” We feel guilty afterward, of course.
Well, a mom found a simple and practical parenting solution that we think many moms will find useful. On her blog The House of Hendrix, Allison Hendrix shared The Interrupt Rule that you can easily apply after you read this article.
“When two adults are talking, and a child needs to interrupt, they simply put their hand on their parent's arm or shoulder. The child waits patiently without speaking,” Allison wrote. This way, your child can tell you that she needs you for something without being intrusive. The physical contact can also ease your child’s compulsion to repeatedly call your attention (like say saying “Mama!” over and over again or repeatedly tapping or poking you).
Your part is to acknowledge your child by touching her hand on your arm. The action reassures your child that you know she needs you. Then, find a good moment to pause the conversation you’re having and address your child. Don't forget to thank him for being patient.
Allison shared that she has also implemented the rule when she’s talking on the phone, not just for face-to-face conversations. “My children don’t wait forever, but this gives me a few moments to finish up my conversation before shifting gears,” the mom-of-three said.
The beauty of the Interrupt Rul, as Allison points out, is your “child’s needs have been met and were addressed with undivided attention at the moment determined by the parent.”
In the comments section of her post, parents of toddlers and preschoolers praised Allison’s Interrupt Rule. “I love this idea! It seems so simple. Have been trying to think of a better way to handle this with my little sons. Thank you! Will implement this right away,” commented Facebook user Rachel.
“We tried this, and it has been great! Our youngest son hasn’t caught on but our 4-year-old has, and that’s something! Thanks for sharing this idea for a little parent sanity!” wrote Debbie.