Interruptions

My intentions are noble enough but it is hard to focus with the 5-year-old grandson Jackson talking constantly. I remember when my children first became parents and I noticed their uncanny ability to totally ignore the chatter of their little ones. I was wise enough not to judge it.

I realized that a child’s chatter, when it is incessant, becomes background noise. One loses this ability after the house is no longer occupied with little children. Without it, one could never have a conversation with another person or be able to finish reading a recipe. I also realized that when I am trying to converse with a parent their child is probably more insistent on being listened to. By my very presence, I am taking away the attention that is rightfully the child’s first and foremost and the child wants to be sure the adults don’t forget this fact.  If I myself am to distracted, I might comment to a parent: “I think Johnny is has a question for you.” This alerts them and they usually attend to them. It doesn’t stop the problem but it gives me a chance to regroup in my own head.

I have heard some suggestions concerning this habit of a child to interrupt or to insist that attention be directed at them. Give a child a nonverbal signal a child can use to let the parent know they have something to say. Then show them a signal you yourself will use to let them know they were heard and will respond shortly. Talk to them in advance of a visitor coming or a phone conversation. Tell them how imporant it is that they play quietly. Assure them they will get special attention when the guest leaves or the phone conversation is over. Then give them the attention even if it is just a few minutes of undivided parent-child conversation.

It is good for a parent to realize that a child’s concept of time is limited. We will say, “In a minute” when it turns out to be way longer than that. It is good to be realistic if for no other reason than to help them develop a sense of time.

It is good to realize also that children will be children. The suggestions here need to take into consideration that a three year old may find waiting more difficult than a five year old.

When  you finally reengage with the child, tell them how much you appreciate their cooperation. “I really enjoyed visiting with my friend. Thank you for waiting.” Do what you said you would if you promised special attention.

I don ‘t exactly know what brought this on. Jackson is now occupying himself playing with his monsterish toys. Just can’t seem to let go of the parent educator in me.

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