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  • Saying 'Shhh' Won't Stop Your Child From Interrupting: What To Do Instead

    Ideally, you should ignore your child if she's interrupting, but you also need a plan.
    by Rachel Perez .
Saying 'Shhh' Won't Stop Your Child From Interrupting: What To Do Instead
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Since you started working from home, how many times have your children interrupted you? It’s too many that you can’t count anymore. You probably lost count on the first day or week.

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    Every time you’re interrupted, you either take a quick break to attend to your child’s needs or try to shush him as you go on with your work call. Whatever course of action you choose, your child wins because he’s gotten your attention. 

    “It’s your words against your child’s desires. You can say, ‘No’ or ‘Be quiet,’ but it won’t be the best long-term approach,” professor of child development Philip Zelazo tells Fatherly

    What to do to lessen the times your child interrupts you while working

    According to Abigail Gewirtz, professor of family science and child development and author of When the World Feels Like a Scary Place, the ideal response if you don’t want to be interrupted is to ignore your child when he or she is coming to you just seeking your attention.

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    But you also need a plan. Below are Gewirtz and Zelazo's suggestions:

    Set the rules and practice implementing them 

    Aside from signals, set up the rules. Say if your door is closed to hear you talking to the phone, they should not interrupt (unless it’s an emergency). Ignore them if they do and be firm and gentle about it. You can play a game to practice this, and if they do well in practice, motivate them to keep it up. 

    Involve your child in finding activities to do

    Talk to your child about why you need quiet and no interruptions when you’re working. Ask your little one what he or she could do apart from interrupting you. This way, they are involved in the solution that can keep them busy and likely follow through with it. 

    Be creative but direct in talking to your child

    If you want silence, then say so. Kids love to pretend, so use that to your advantage. Staying quiet while on a task is one thing, but doing so because you both pretending to be a spy or superhero is more fun! Create a signal to cue your child whenever you get on a call.

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    Mix it up every so often

    Doing the same thing over and over again may not work in the long run. You need to shuffle activities every so often. If you did the spy thing yesterday, give your little one lego drawings to follow next.

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    The key is to find a balance of not too easy and not too challenging tasks. Plan this beforehand. It can be time-consuming, but it can help you map out what your child can do so you can work in peace. 

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