Politeness and Your Toddler

Patience, Patience, Patience

Question

Whenever I'm on the phone or chatting with a friend, my almost-3-year-old daughter constantly interrupts us. It's embarrassing. Is there any way to stop her from doing this?

Answer

This problem is about being patient and waiting your turn -- something that many adults can't handle very well -- so go easy on your daughter, suggests Wallace. Interrupting is a tough habit for toddlers to break; they have very little sense of time and not too much patience, so telling them that they have to wait a minute is akin to asking them to wait a day.

First, sit down with your daughter and explain that when you're having a conversation with someone else, it's hard to listen to her while the other person is talking. You'll also want to let her know that people take turns when they talk, and sometimes she'll need to wait until another person is finished speaking before she can chime in. Finally, tell her that if she really needs you -- she needs to use the bathroom, for example -- she can interrupt your conversation by saying "Excuse me," suggests Wallace.

The next time your daughter interrupts you, say, "Excuse me" to whomever you're talking to and then tell your daughter, "Please don't interrupt. When I'm finished talking to my friend, you can have a turn." It'll take quite a bit of practice for your daughter to get her timing right, but with your prompting, she'll eventually learn when to speak.

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