Children are joyous explorers of our world! They constantly learn new things and want to share their discoveries. They also, rightfully, demand a lot of their parents’ attention.
But how do you handle this need for attention when it grows into a habit of constantly interrupting adults? We each have a personal opinion on the spectrum of children being seen and not heard – at least until it’s their turn.
Let’s explore this subject from an etiquette standpoint.
Let’s face it – when your child is interrupting adults it quickly becomes a nuisance. Not only is the quality of your conversation at risk, but also the desire other people have to spend time with you.
Assuming your child has a fair share of your undivided attention at appropriate times, it is only right that he is taught to share your attention with others.
Preparation is key in this lesson. You might talk to your child about not interrupting before you enter into a conversation with another adult. Or perhaps give your child an activity to do while you visit with someone else. Here is a more comprehensive list of methods for teaching children not to interrupt.
However, if a persistent interruption occurs, apologize to your conversation partner and tend to your child as quickly as possible so that you can continue your interaction.
You may find yourself in conversation with the parent of a child who is interrupting adults. Though you don’t play a direct role in disciplining the child, you do play a role in carrying on the conversation at hand:
Parents know they have a responsibility to help their children form respectful habits, including the give and take of conversation.
But children also need the reassurance of love and security when parents aren’t immediately present. Having raised four children, I've experienced the tension of wanting a little one to feel included, and not wanting to create a scene with disciplinary action when that eager child is interrupting adults.
However, from an etiquette standpoint, once you’ve entered into conversation with someone, your social obligation is to give that person your attention. When unable to do so, it’s best to end it as politely as you can.