Have you noticed that whenever you fall into a conversation with another adult—whether it’s a teacher, a fellow parent, or even someone on the other end of a phone call—it triggers your children to interrupt?
Why does this happen? For starters, sensing that a parent’s focus has moved away from them can feel scary to kids. It may even inspire them to act out in order to feel seen. (Hey, they don’t call it “attention-seeking behavior” for nothing.) Kids may melt down, shout potty words, attempt dangerous playground stunts, pick fights with siblings—let’s normalize it all.
The most important thing you can do in these situations is self-regulate. Remember: While your instinct may be to immediately put out the fire, your child’s interruption is not actually an emergency. Writes author and parenting guru Janet Lansbury: “You’re not hurting [your child] by not responding to every single time she says, ‘Mama,’ or hurrying up your phone calls because she’s yelling at you.”
In fact, setting boundaries around interrupting is healthy. So how to do it in a loving way? Read on for tips.