Picture this: you are in the middle of an important conversation with your next door neighbor, excited for the chance to finally connect and get to know her. Just at that moment your sweet, yet excited, son runs up and rudely interrupts. “Mom. Mom! MOM!!!” he yells, trying to get your attention while impatiently tapping your side. In turn, you blush with embarrassment, hoping your new neighbor doesn’t judge 8 year-old Johnny too harshly.
Undoubtedly, every mom has experienced this scene at some point in time, for young children are naturally needy and rather self-centered. They think of something and just want to blurt it out before they forget. So how can we train our children to graciously get our attention and think before they interrupt?
Putting it into practice:
Here are four tips on how to train your children to wait patiently for the right moment to say, “Excuse me, Mom,” in order to get your attention.
1. Wait for the Pause.
Explain to your child that every conversation has pauses. Instruct him to watch for a pause in which he can ask his question or enter the conversation by saying, “Excuse me.” This will not only make your conversations more pleasant, but it will also teach your child good conversation skills which he can use later in life.
2. Encourage the Hand Squeeze.
Teach your child to squeeze your hand to secretly let you know that he wants your attention. Explain to him that you will give him quick eye contact and a smile to let him know you felt his squeeze and will give him your attention as soon as possible. Giving him your undivided attention once you are available will build his confidence and trust to wait patiently for you without interrupting.
3. Play the “Talking Ball” Game.
While at home, set aside some time to have family conversations in which the speaker is given a ball to hold while he has the floor. When finished, instruct him to pass the ball to the next speaker. Using a ball helps children visualize how easy it is to interrupt as well as how necessary it is to wait their turn.
Reinforce the importance of not interrupting by noticing and praising your child whenever he patiently waits his turn to speak to you.
Bethany Miller is the founder and director of Doors of Success School of Etiquette. A graduate of the prestigious American School of Protocol in Atlanta, Georgia and licensed by the renowned Protocol School of Washington, Ms. Miller is a teacher passionately seeking to encourage a revival of kindness and politeness in American society. For more etiquette tips, check out her course offerings and follow Doors of Success on Facebook!