How To Stop Your Kids Interrupting You

To change anything you need to first need to see your life AS IT IS to identify the parts of it that actually need changing. In other words, to stop your kids interrupting you, you have to see your child’s patterns of interrupting as it is, big picture.

Very often, many of our struggles and challenges, come from us being over-whelmed and having just too much on our plates. As such, we have to learn to prioritize what’s most important, find ways to reduce the chaos and stress to allow ourselves to show up as we know we can and “should”, to allow us to meet our child’s needs. I wrote about just this in a post called: How To Upgrade Your Parenting.

If you are interested in more on this and finding a way to upgrade your parenting, this blog HERE is just for you. It’s called THE ULTIMATE PARENTING UPGRADE.

It is easy to see that when we are operating from a place of general over-whelm, dealing with the routine things that kids do, like interrupting, being disrespectful, not listening, leaving their sh*t all over the house, can cause us to snap. It becomes the straw that breaks the camel’s back when really it shouldn’t.

And let’s not forget that we now put ourselves in a much more vulnerable position of being interrupted because of one thing: our phones.

Because we spend so much of our time on our phones, we are guaranteed to be interrupted more as a result of it. Our kids are competing for our attention in ways today that never existed even 10 years ago.

Want to know how to stop your kids from interrupting you?

You need to dig deep, find a way to show up for your kids and start to live your life in a way that maximizes your ability to cope with the routine, mundane, highly irritating and frustrating things that all kids do, like interrupting, being disrespectful, not listening, leaving their sh*t all over the house… and more! As irritating as it is, it’s just kind of par for the course. I know that when I was my kid’s age, I was probably not that different from them.

I’m not saying that it’s okay to let kids get away with these sorts of things. Absolutely not! I’m simply saying that we have to be badass in our capacity to role model the acceptable behaviours we want them to learn and adopt for themselves.

Because we are so much more distracted from our life by our phones and the general busyness of it all, it makes it that much harder for us to do a good job of it!

We need to role model the behaviours we wish to see and hear in our kids.

I’d like you to think about this for a moment.

Kids live in the present moment, in the NOW. Children are so in the moment that they are not thinking about anything else, least of all what you might have had said before they became engrossed in whatever it is they were doing.

What was said 30 minutes earlier about having to go to the dentist in 30 minutes is long forgotten!

They lose all track of time. How nice…. for them!

And when they are in situations such as this, they often find themselves briskly interrupted from it by us, when we want them to get into the car to go to the dentist, or come in for dinner, get ready for their bath, or whatever else it might be.

Flip this around to when they want something from us. Because children are so in the present moment that when they need us for something, they want it NOW. And they interrupt us with no thought as to what we might be doing and our availability to drop it to deal with them!

If you are interested in getting a copy of my FREE 8-page workbook which takes you through the steps you need to take to upgrade your parenting. This is a pivotal piece to helping you stop your child from interrupting you, you can get it here.

How to stop your kids from interrupting you:

You need to be prepared to own the part you have played in creating the patterns and behaviours that exist and stop rudely interrupting them and instead give them an acceptable behaviour to copy! This takes courage and vulnerability and self-compassion. It’s can sometimes be hard to accept that we have maybe contributed to the interrupting patterns that your child has learned to do.

It is our job to teach our kids that often in life you need to keep listening and wait for an appropriate time before you ask for something AND to orchestrate an appropriate way to ask for it.

I’m guessing that if you have a kid who interrupts you might also struggle with the fact your little person, or maybe not so little, also doesn’t listen to you? If so, take a look at this post, it will help you a lot and ties in nicely with this. It’s called: How To Get Your Kids To Listen.

Our children copy us and learn from us so if we want them to learn how to do this, we have to be very committed to showing them and leading the way.

And I have been as guilty of NOT doing this as any. Who am I to wonder why when I am doing my stuff, that my kids often barge in and just demand something from me!!!

I had this happen to me just last week and wanted to share it with you to highlight the case in point.

The Day My Son Interrupted Me

One day last week, my 13-year-old son came home from school and walked in the door happy and full of joy.

He immediately started engaging me in a conversation and asking me questions.

I was working and was not finished.

He needed me to listen to him but I was preoccupied and had to hit a work deadline.

I was grouchy and snippety to him. It was fear that underpinned it all for me. Fear that I wouldn’t get my work finished. You’ll begin to see that it’s usually fear.

My son didn’t know I was working. He hadn’t received a crystal ball reading informing him of this on his walk home from school!! He did not need me to be grouchy and snippety with him. It was unfair of me. Would I have treated a friend like this….? Mmmmmm….

Understandably his mood turned from happy to frustrated and two frustrated souls met each other.

Fortunately for me, with the work I do and the awareness I have developed, I saw it all. The interrupting had triggered me, so I took action and gave myself permission to start over and re-model what I wanted him to see and hear.

I explained to him where I was at, and asked him if he could give me 10 minutes so that I could then give him my full attention.

After 10 minutes and not a minute more and went over to him, gave him a big hug, thanked him for his patience and apologized for my behaviour. I told him that I understood his frustration and that there was no excuse for my behaving the way I had. We sat down, had a snack and pretty quickly he was off doing something and I grabbed the time to finish my work.

We have to ask ourselves what do our children NEED from us? And ask ourselves that very question, regularly. Especially in the moments where they might have rudely interrupted us or been caught guilty of something.

It also helps to take the time after the fact to reflect on things and ask ourselves if our behaviour is role modeling a behaviour that we would like to see our child develop?

I asked myself this:

  • Did my behaviour serve my child? In this case: NO
  • Did my behaviour teach him anything? In this case: NO
  • Did my behaviour make the situation better or worse? In this case: WORSE

He did not need me to be grouchy at him for interrupting me, instead, he needed to be told in a respectful and kindly manner so that he could hopefully learn from it.

Life today has just become so busy, that we are almost always being pulled in multiple directions that when our child “demands” something of us and interrupts us, we are liable to snap. As understandable as it is, I do not believe that it makes it acceptable.

At the end of the day, we have to shape our behaviour into that which we want our children to adopt. We need to role model the behaviour that we want our children to take on and develop.

The bottom line is this: if we rudely interrupt our kids, they will continue to rudely interrupt us because they have learned it from us!

Tips to help you stop your kids interrupting you:

1. When the kids come home from school:

  1. Try where possible to be FREE from chores, calls, work for the 15 to 20 minutes when your kids and or, you come in the door from school
  2. Ask yourself – what do they need from me right now?
  3. Set them up with what they need, have a chat with them, be present to them, disconnect from your phone and connect with them
  4. Once they are occupied, then you can pop back to do some work, chores, dinner prep or whatever else you might need to do, but always letting them know that you are there for them and expecting the likelihood of being “interrupted”

2. When you are interrupted by your child:

  1. Think role model: Take a breath. Pause. What do I want them to learn from this?
  2. Tell them nicely that you are in the middle of something and that you need X minutes to just finish it up, please can they wait
  3. Depending on what it is that they want, you can deal with it as and when you feel appropriate
  4. Have a conversation with them about HOW to ask for something, WHEN seems the right time to ask for something and give them some examples of things they could practice saying to avoid rudely interrupting:
    1. I see you are busy right now Mom, how long are you going to be?
    2. Are you busy Mom, I really need something from you
    3. Mom, please can you let me know when you are finished because I need some help with something?

3. When you need to interrupt your kids:

  1. Think role model: Take a breath. Pause. What do I want them to learn from this?
  2. Go up to them and in a kindly manner, give them a 5 or 10-minute time warning, making sure they have heard you – don’t shout this from another room!
  3. When the time is up, go up to them, get close and say to them that you need them to do X, Y, Z
  4. Be aware of what they are doing: if they need a couple more minutes, sit with them while they finish off what they are doing
  5. Stay with them and move them on to the next activity

I still occasionally find myself treating my kids in a way that I would not like to be treated myself and wonder why they then behave in a similar way with me. Monkey see, monkey do! They are our mirror, to guide us and teach us of when we need to make some changes.

It is vital that we are steadfast in our commitment to role model the behaviours we wish to see our children adopt and help them acquire the skills required to do so. Our actions speak so much louder than our words. There is such truth in this well known, anonymous quote:

“Children are great imitators, so give them something really good to imitate.”

This is how to stop your kids from interrupting you.

We must not forget that children look to us for guidance and leadership.

To help you understand the patterns of interrupting, take a look at these questions:

  • When is it that you are usually interrupted by your child?
  • What time of day is it?
  • What are you doing?

The answers to your questions will also help you create and find some practical solutions to dealing with it and possibly setting up strategies to avoiding it. If you have anything you are struggling with, please leave a comment in one of the comment boxes below this post. I’d be happy to help you.

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