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Ask Dr. Sears: Little Interrupters

[STYLE {Q. Lately, when I talk to other people, my daughter interrupts me. How can I get her to stop and wait her turn?} {SECTION}]

[STYLE {A.} {SECTION}] Some kids get so excited about what they have to say that they can't wait to share it with their favorite audience  -- namely, you. Rather than squelch your child's willingness to communicate with a reprimand, why not take the opportunity to teach a valuable lesson in turn-taking? Here, some techniques that my wife, Martha, and I used with our kids:

• As soon as she begins to cut in, acknowledge her by saying something like "That's exciting! Hold your thought while Mommy finishes talking." You want to send the message that what she has to say is important to you, but the timing's just not right. Of course, it might take a little repetition before it starts to sink in that she needs to wait.

• Ask her to express her thoughts in quiet ways. Once when I was involved in a conversation that couldn't be interrupted, my son Matthew, who was 5 at the time, was persistent. I asked him to draw a picture of what he wanted to tell me and then come back and show it to me. By the time he did, I was finished talking and could give him my undivided attention. From then on, anytime I'd say "Draw Daddy a picture," to prevent him from butting in, he did so without a fuss.

• If she's just bursting with something to say that really can't wait, teach her that there are polite ways of interrupting  -- quietly tapping you and saying "Excuse me," for instance. Simply make such manners the norm in your family, and she'll learn from your example.