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Posted by: Sharmila Rajah


Now that Ayanna loves to talk, she loves just as much to interrupt – cutting in, demanding to speak on the phone while tugging on my sleeve or pants, yelling “Mommy.... mommy...mummy... I want to talk!” It's especially tricky if you work from home. It's actually quite exasperating!

The thing is … it will be awhile before these interruptions come to a halt. The very concept of interrupting makes no sense to a toddler. A toddler's view – is that the world around him exists for his/ her benefit. Therefore there's little (or no) understanding that other people/ activity sometimes requires a parent's attention/ interest. A toddler perceives it as a threat when a parent focuses on something other than him/ her.

When I'm on the phone, I usually offer Ayanna her toy phone so she can get in on the conversation (though sometimes that can be distracting). Most times I keep her busy with crayons and toys.

The good news is that by the time they are 3 or 4, they'll begin to understand what an interruption is and what is meant by “Mommy's / Daddy's busy right now”. Yes, it's not going to happen overnight, but it's important for your 2-year-old to learn that interrupting isn't okay. Knowing how to participate in polite, give-and-take conversation is an important step toward developing social skills.

Let them learn by example – be sure not to interrupt your 2-year-old when he/ she's talking to you. If you do, stop and say, "Sorry. I interrupted you. Go on”. Although they may not yet understand why manners are important, they'll sense that manners are something of value if parents themselves are doing it.

How do you handle similar situations?

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