WHEN YOUR CHILD INTERRUPTS YOUR TALK.

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WHEN YOUR CHILD INTERRUPTS YOUR TALK

My six year old son Naveen always interrupts me when I am talking to my friends, or chatting with my colleagues on the phone. I tried my best to dissuade him from this habit by scolding him whenever he butts in. But it is of no use.  What is wrong with him? How can I correct this irritating habit?” A worried mother, Anuradha from Surat, wrote to us recently. So, here is what you should do when your child interrupts your talk.

First of all, keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with your child and you cannot wean your child off this habit just by scolding him or beating him up. In fact, such attempts may backfire also. Before suggesting a few tips to correct this tendency of your kid, let me ask you one question.  Have you ever wondered why your children interrupts, or butts-in while you are talking? If you haven’t, then it is high time you should do that. Child psychologists say that there are many reasons behind this kind of behaviour. Every child by nature is an attention seeker. If he feels completely left alone while you talk to others, he is likely to interrupt you. Or the child may really be bored, and butting into the conversation may really be any attempt to join the conversation. Sometimes, the child may have discovered something really new and interesting, and may immediately cut into your conversation just to tell you about it. And remember that all these issues can be resolved very effectively by some simple tactics.

Is your child an attention seeker? If he is, then anticipate the situation. If you are expecting a visitor, or have to attend to a long phone conversation, settle your child and keep him busy with absorbing and interesting activities like colouring pictures, playing with toys etc. Sometimes, you may feel like installing your child in front of the T.V and get him glued to it. This is not a good tendency at all. Whenever you try to keep your child busy, make sure that it helps him or her improve their creative skill. What if you are not in a position to keep the child engaged in something? Then you can involve him in your conversation in such a way that it does not disturb you. Make it a point that you do not ignore your kid during your conversation.  Make him feel that he is also being paid attention to. You can achieve this goal either my making occasional comments on what he is doing or by asking him to serve guests with refreshments, fruits etc. You can give the child a hug or ask him to sit beside you while you talk. If he finds something interesting and comes to show it you in the middle of your conversation, acknowledge him and tell him that you will discuss it with him in detail later. Acknowledging the kid is very important, however busy you are with your conversation. If you are reluctant to pay attention to the kid’s discovery, however small and trivial it may be, that will dampen his spirit to explore the world around and share his experiences with you. Sometimes, your indifferent disposition, even if it is inadvertent, may give the child an impression that he is not taken care of properly, and in due course this may result in your kid drifting away from you.

Don’t worry; there are so many ways to keep your kid busy, if you really anticipate the situation.  If your kid has siblings at home, you can ask the elder one to tell the younger one a story or help the latter to colour a picture or draw something. In this way, you can not only dissuade your kid from butting in but also create a healthy bond between the siblings.  You can teach your kids good habits only by acknowledging their good behaviour. So make it a point that you appreciate the kid whenever s/he does not butt in. You need not give the child proper gifts to appreciate his good manners. A pat on his back or a small piece of chocolate or a kiss on his cheek will do the job. But you should always remember to mention that this is for the kid’s good behaviour. This will motivate the child to stop interrupting you. Warren Densely, an expert in child-psychology says, “Acknowledgement and appreciation always motivate the kid to move along the positive direction.”

Do not be under the assumption that the kids are never ever allowed to talk a single word when you are talking to your friend or relative or colleague. If the child wants to tell you something very important, let him or her talk to you. But insist that they follow decorum.  Before they interrupt, encourage the kid to use such polite words as ‘Excuse me’ or ‘pardon’. You should follow the same routine when your child is talking to his/her sibling or friend. This will help the kid absorb the right way to behave.  Sometimes, the child may upset all your plans to discipline him and keep going with the same habit of interrupting your talk.  What will you do if the child reacts negatively to your attempts? You are may lose your tempter. But please don’t do this. Be patient and don’t scold the kid. Everything is new to the kid and he will take quite a long time to learn the social decorum. It is only through constant training that you can teach the kids discipline his instincts. It does not mean that you should keep mum whenever the kid butts in. Do tell him or her about it firmly later, yet pleasantly. Getting angry with the child will make him even more relentless and stubborn. If the child repeats the mistake, make it a point to remind him about his behaviour. Finally don’t think that you can wean the child off this this habit overnight. It will take some time. Till then be patient.

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SREENATH V S
Sreenath V.S is a doctoral student of English in the department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur. He was the sub-editor of the English division of Malayala Manorama Publications from 2013-2014, and is also a columnist the magazine Balarama Digest. His interest areas include child psychology, children’s literature, translation studies, and the philosophy of literature and language.

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