36 answers

My Six Year Old Constantly Interupts

I am raising my six year old granddaughter. She is a beautiful child and my husband and I are very happy to have her in our home. She does, however, lack some manners which I am working on. She constantly interupts when I'm talking to someone or they are talking to me. She could have nothing at all to say to me until I start to talk to someone else or someone begins to talk to me. Then she must immediately tell me something even if it's something like "Grandma, the sun is out today." My question is this. When someone is talking to me and she runs up and interupts, how do I handle the immediate situation? Do I divert my attention from whoever is talking to me to tell her not to interupt or do I just let her try to interupt and not pay any attention and hope the person speaking to me continues with the conversation. My thought is to just reach out and not forcefully but to put my hand over her mouth without even looking at her and then later have a discussion with her about it. What do you think? Any advice would be appreciated!

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My kids have been known to do this as well. I usually just hold my hand up and say "Wait" and they know then that they can talk when I am finished. This usually works now, although at first I usually had to do it 2-3 times to get them to realize they really had to wait. (I have an 8 year old with autism and ADHD that this also works with)

when my daughter was in preschool they taught her to put her hand on the arm of the person she wanted to talk to, so someone knew that she had something to say. When she does that I then put my hand on hers so she knows that I know she wants to say something but not until the other person is done talking will I responed to her. Hope this is helpful.

Hi C.,

I think that you should bring it to her attention every time that she interupts you with out using manors. If you ignore her, she will think that it's ok and she will continue to do it. Also you might want to remind her about appropraite times to talk to you / any one and when not to.

Have a great day
C. Z

More Answers

When alone with her, teach her how to interrupt. "I would like to show you how to interrupt", and model it.

I taught my children to place one hand on my arm or my leg to interrupt (without patting, or making noise). Then I gently place my hand over their hand to acknowledge their need. And they wait. Because I placed my hand on theirs in acknowledgement, they knew I was waiting for a natural pause in my conversation before I addressed their interruption. But be sure to make waiting an appropriate amount of time.

In the beginning, if the child forgets to use their hand - politely excuse yourself from your friend by saying "Excuse me, we are learning how to interrupt - one moment so I can remind my grand-daughter". Say, "Honey, do remember how to interrupt?" "What do you need?" "Next time, use your hand please". "Thank you".

Patience and consistency will prevail.

3 moms found this helpful

My son did the same thing. I asked my professor (a trained Marriage and Family Therapist) what to do. He suggested using a visual cue to deter interruptions. He said whenever my son begins to interrupt I should play "traffic cop" by holding my hand up to indicate I want him to stop speaking. I then continue my conversation (while still holding up my hand). When I am done I put my hand down and signal that he can proceed. The key is not to say anything. Speaking only reinforces the behavior because it allows the child to command your attention. I was skeptical at first, but it works pretty well.

One last thing...don't forget to compliment you granddaughter on her patience when she waits her turn.

2 moms found this helpful

My kids do the same thing. I practice with them. This works for many things, being on the phone, typing at the computer or in a conversation. If she sees that you are "busy" but wants your attention then she needs to quietly walk up and place her hand on you so that you know she desires to talk to you. They always get impatient. Start with a short time to wait to make eye contact and discuss things. Always say thank you when they actually do it. Hope this helps.
God Bless

2 moms found this helpful

In order to model politeness and respect to children, you need to give them the same. At her age, she simply needs to be reminded that interrupting is not appropriate. BUT it needs to be done in a polite and respectful manner, otherwise, she will learn from what you do, not what you say. The book Positive Discipline for Preschoolers advises that you NOT interrupt the person interrupting you. That simply shows that you can also be rude. The best thing to do is to address her AS YOU WOULD like to be addressed if you had inadvertently interrupted someone. Just stop your conversation and say to her, "wait one moment. Let me finish my conversation and then we can talk." Then find an appropriate break in your conversation (not too long after she has started waiting) and then turn your attention to her. If you do something like put your hand over her mouth (God forbid), it teaches her that that is okay to do to others, possibly schoolmates or younger children and that is NOT okay! That is rude and abusive. I am sure you would not like that if your husband treated you in that manner. The same goes for your granddaughter. Also, please do not interrupt her with her friends, as someone suggested. This only models rude behavior and does NOT teach her that it is unacceptable behavior. No one should be exhibiting unacceptable behavior, least of all, the adults! Some good parenting books are Playful Parenting and Between Parent and Child. Check them out if you have time. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Dear C.,
First of all, I'd like to say that I think it's wonderful thing you are doing...raising your granddaughter. And, also, be so aware of wanting her to have manners. It seems to me that so many parents these days don't see the importance of children knowing how to behave or be polite and I think it's a shame. I was "southern raised". We said Yes mam, No mam, Yes sir, no sir. We called people, unless they were relatives, by their last names, Mr./Mrs. Jones. If we were more familiar, we called women Miss Peggy (Or whatever her firt name was). My parents were not tyrants, by any means, but my sister and I were raised to act like little ladies. Oh, we climbed trees, went fishing/camping, rode bikes, got filthy dirty, but we still had to say please and thank you. Interrupting was a SERIOUS pet peeve for my parents. If we interrupted, somebody BETTER be bleeding. My dad taught us, from the time we were very little, that if they were on the phone or talking and we needed something, we could approach and gently tug on a sleeve. Two tugs. If they did not acknowledge us right away, we went back to what we were doing or went to another room, knowing full well that in a few minutes, they would either call for us or come to find out what we wanted or needed. We didn't stand and hover or tug, tug, tug. The tug was our silent signal and they never failed to let us have our time to say what it was we wanted to say. Somehow we just knew that if what we wanted was something like, "Can we play in the front yard instead of the backyard, or can we have some watermelon", we would live the 5 or 10 minutes until we got the answer. If someone was hurt or it was SUPER important, we would still
tug and say, "Excuse me for interrupting...."
I think it sounds like your granddaughter is wanting attention and to be part of the conversation. But you are right to let her know that interrupting to let you know the sun is out is not appropriate. It's not wrong for her to notice that, or even be happy about it. But when other people are talking is not the time to bring it up.
My friend's son, who is 11, was never an interrupter but started it all the sudden. "I found a rock outside. I had pancakes for breakfast". They invited people over and instead of playing with the kids, he was in the family room tumbling and rolling around the floor in front of everyone. Of course, he is a little older, but she just started calling him on it. In front of everyone. She would say, "People are talking and you are interrupting. You know that it's rude, and you are still doing it. Would you like to say you're sorry and go outside to play with the other kids, or would you like to go to your room alone while everyone is here?" He always chose to go play.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with engaging children in conversation. That is how they learn to converse.
Try practicing with you and your husband. Maybe have a trusted neighbor or friend come to visit and if she interrupts, call her on it. If someone asks her how her day is or what she had for lunch, let her say, and then ask her to excuse herself while you continue your visit. Like I said, my friend's kid thought everytime adults came over, it was "The Logan Show".
Just talk to your little girl. Let her know that you love her and talking to someone else does not mean you forget she's there. Everyone loves her and knows she's there. She does not need to interrupt. Try the tugging thing. It worked for me and my sister and our kids. She'll get settled in and I really wish you all the best of luck with her. My hat is off to you!

1 mom found this helpful

I get the same thing from my six-year-old. We tried infusing some humor. When she interrupted, I said to the person I was talking to "excuse me, but there must be a fire or intruder in the house." I then turned to DD and said "Okay honey, where's the fire?" Of course, she admitted that there was no fire, then that there was no intruder. And her sister was fine. "Surely you understand that those are the only reasons to interrupt an adult conversation? I'd be happy to hear what you have to say when the adults are finished talking. If you're afraid you'll forget what it was, then draw Mommy a picture." It took a few repeats of the scenario, but I can now talk to another adult without quite so many interruptions.

1 mom found this helpful

Good for you that you are not only raising your granddaughter, but raising her with manners! =)

My suggestion is to discuss with her ahead of time that she is not to interrupt grown-ups unless there is a major emergency (house on fire, someone bleeding profusely). Then tell her what to do to signal that she would like to tell you something. My daughter comes to stand next to me, right at my elbow. Then tell her she needs to wait until you look right at her in order to speak. If she forgets and interrupts you, tell her that you will put your hand on her mouth (or put your finger in the air, or some other signal you both agree on) to remind her.

Then, do it every time. My 5 year old was especially incorrigible at first. I mean, I would be talking on the phone and she'd be standing there getting louder and louder at me. I'll be honest, there were a few times she had a spanking and a serious talking to about it after my phone conversation, but I am pretty adamant about not interrupting my conversation to correct her verbally, because that just teaches her that if she's super obnoxious, she will get results. Not the message I wanted to send her! In any case it did take several weeks of near-constant correction for her to get it right, but she is better now. She still forgets sometimes but when I put my finger in the air, she shuts up. Mission accomplished. Now if I could just get my 3 year old to do the same...

My advice is the same way Traci L explained. We role played it with our kids so they could see how it would work. Come to think of it I think they need a refresher course. Best wishes, R. . I wanted to mention that when they put their hand on my shoulder or arm I touch their hand so they know I am aware of them.

I am a mother of 5 children and a teacher. I do not suggest you putting your hand over her mouth, that will only demean her in front of people. Ignoring her will only encourage her to increase her volume to get your attention. I would have a talk with her before these situations arise and explain to her that it is not okay to interrupt while you are talking to someone else. Explain to her that when she needs your attention, you will give it to her as soon as you can. Create a non-verbal sign that she recognizes ahead of time and explain to her that the sign means that you know she needs your attention and that you will give her that attention as soon as you can. It might be as simple as reaching out and taking her hand in yours. While you are holding her hand, she knows that you are waiting for a good time to interrupt your conversation to listen to her. If she continues to verbally interrupt, take a second to remind her that you are holding her hand, you hear her, and you will be with her in a minute. The person with whom you are having a conversation will understand that small interruption, or they are not worth your time! Good luck!

My daughter did the same thing. I talked to her (when no one else was around), letting her know that if I was talking to someone and she wanted to say something, she could put her hand on my arm if I was sitting or on my leg if I was standing. That would be our 'code' that she needed to tell me something. If she interrupted, I would raise my index finger to signal that she needed to wait. It worked really well but took a couple weeks. She still has the occasional lapse.
Good luck!

Hi C.,

I think that you should bring it to her attention every time that she interupts you with out using manors. If you ignore her, she will think that it's ok and she will continue to do it. Also you might want to remind her about appropraite times to talk to you / any one and when not to.

Have a great day
C. Z

My kids have been known to do this as well. I usually just hold my hand up and say "Wait" and they know then that they can talk when I am finished. This usually works now, although at first I usually had to do it 2-3 times to get them to realize they really had to wait. (I have an 8 year old with autism and ADHD that this also works with)

When my kids interrupt me, I stop a moment, turn to them and make eye contact, say, "Hold on a minute, let me finish talking" and then return my full attention to the person I was talking to. Then when there is a break in the conversation I turn back to them and say, "now I'd love to hear what you wanted to tell me."

The reason I do it that way is that they don't mean to be rude, but I am trying to help them learn how to wait until there is a natural break in the conversation to jump in and start talking. Giving them the momentary attention to teach them, and then NOT encouraging them by returning my attention back to the other conversation has, for me, been a way to strike a balance.

I had the same experience with my granddaughter. What I did was whenever she interrupted me when I was talking with someone I would ask her to hold on until I was done talking and I would listen to what she had to say. Believe me, I had to tell her this many many times but after while she got the hint. I also explained to her that it is disrespectful to interrupt someone who is talking. In doing this parents not only correct a behavior that is unacceptable, children will also begin to learn about respecting others.

When my son interrupts a conversation, I usually say, "Excuse me, but I am talking to _______ right now. When _________ and I are done with our conversation, it can be your turn to talk." If he continues to interrupt after saying this, I then tell him, "Mom is not finished", and if it further continues, I give him the "look". It usually does not go this far, but he knows after the "look", he is treading in murky waters so to speak.
Then later I will tell him that we need to wait our turn to talk, just like when we wait in line at a restaurant, bathroom, or waiting to drink from the drinking fountain. I also tell him that it is rude to interrupt people when they are talking.
It also depends on why he is interrupting though, such as an emergency. So this needs to be brought up also, and on how to politely interrupt, such as ,"Excuse me grandma, you left the burner on the stove top". But correct her if she uses this method just to interrupt.
Here is a good book to read about manners as well, "The Berenstain Bears Forget their Manners".
Anyways, this has helped to stop my son interrupting conversations, so maybe it will help your granddaughter.

M. *~

the first thing that comes to mind after reading your post is this: First of all the behavior you descreibe is totally normal (I could be in the house all day with my two girls ages 2 and 5 and they will be off playing not at all concerend about me, but let me pick up the phone to make a call and they make a straight bee line to me -- they're hungry, they're fighting, they need to use the bathroom, or like you said...nothing at all...they just want your attention!!) It can be extreemly annoying and frustrating and yes it deserves being address (I don;'t really have any sound wisdom other than what's already been posted by other responders but I did have one other issue to raise...your granddaughter is being raised by her grandparents and not her own parents. Given this arrangement, I would imagine that she is better off with you guys -- and it is wonderful that you have stepped up to do this, she is very lucky to have you two -- but I do wonder how she is processing the fact that her parents are not able or willing to raise her. While it is absolutly important to address the interputing issue (and like I said, people have given you lots of great suggestions on how to do that so I will not give you redundant info on that) I would suggest making sure that lines of communication are open for her to talk about her fears, sadness, need for closeness, etc which is totally normal for children, but may be of greater concern for your granddaughter. I wish you and your family all the best.


she is doing what all kids her age are doing - looking for your undivided attention, specially at times when you are not able to give it to her. As you said, it's all part of teaching children what is appropriate and what is not. Deciding on how to deliver that message is a key: please don't put your hand over her mouth - it equals to an adult way of someone telling you to shut up, right?! As irritating as her interruption might be, she deserves to be tought the counduct in words. And trust me, she is going to respond to it much better. In situations like this, I turn around to my daughter and calmly tell her that I am having a conversation now and she needs to be patient for a few minutes and it's going to be her turn. Conversation afterwards at home(or even better before the situation occcurs) is even more important - that is when you are setting the rules of behaviour so that when you get into the situation in public and you remind her not to interrupt, she will know exactly what you are talking about. I think teaching children the ways of communication is a key to raising a confident and respectfull child and the essence of the way she will continue to communicate with you in the future.

HI C.,

I have a 8 year old son that does this, I do all 3 things that you mentioned. eventually they will figure it out to wait their turn. Good luck with your GrandDaughter


I recommend you put your hand up, as your granddaughter is running up to you, if you know she will interupt. I have an eleven year old daughter, and once I did this for a few weeks, she learned she had to wait before talking. I even took it a step further, and after I put my hand up and continued my conversation, once I was finished with my conversation I would look at her and would make her still say, "Excuse me" before speaking. Although it took a few weeks of training, it worked well. Good luck!

when my daughter was in preschool they taught her to put her hand on the arm of the person she wanted to talk to, so someone knew that she had something to say. When she does that I then put my hand on hers so she knows that I know she wants to say something but not until the other person is done talking will I responed to her. Hope this is helpful.

Oh, I have been there!
I tried so many things, but finally decided that interrupting my conversation to calmly say something along the lines of, "I am talking to(blank) right now. When I am done talking to them, I will be happy to give you my attention, but right now you need to let me finish my conversation," and then just continue the conversation. When I was ready to hear what she had to say, I would turn and, in a happy voice, say, "Yes, darling girl, what do you need to talk to me about?" I would get down on her level and look in her eyes as well, and not rush her, and sometimes touch her so she would realize that I was fully present. It took time, but eventually she got the gist that in conversations, we pay attention to what people are saying to us and give them our attention so they know that we are listening and care about what they are saying. Happily, she is now 14, and a polite, sweet girl...and I interrupt more than she does now...and, yes, she calls me on it!

My friend has the same problem. Here's what she does: if she is speaking to someone and her son comes up and says something, she doesn't look at him, she just reaches over and holds his hand gently to let him know that she is aware he's there. When there is a pause in the conversation she reminds him that it's not the right thing to do to interrupt, and then she listens to him. Also, she regularly does role-playing with him. For example, she'll say 'when you have something to say to me while I'm talking to someone else, you have to wait for a pause and then say excuse me before starting to speak. Then she and her husband will start to talk and the boy will have to say excuse me or no one listens.

good luck with this, you are an angel to be raising this child.

pretty typical behavior. i would definetly make it clear to wait until you are finished talking before she does. when i was a teacher we had the child place a hand on our shoulder/leg (depending on if i was standing or sitting) to let us know they are there and have something to say. i would also touch their hand to let them know i know they are there...then when i wolud be finsished with what i was doing i would then turn to them and listen. I would also make sure you do not interrupt her. treat her as you would want to be treated. often parents ask their children to say please and thank you etc and then themselves they do not...respect and consitency is key. good luck!

I had the same problem with my daughter when she was little. I had a friend give me this suggestion. Her suggestion worked: Invite a girlfriend, or two, over to the house and when the children start playing in a private room like the child's bedroom or living rooom, sit in the doorway or nearby and whenever they start to converse, interrupt. Do it often. Your daughter will probably ask you to stop interrupting. That's the time to ask if you can speak with her in private. Then tell her you understand how annoying constant interrupting can be and you thought it was okay because she does it to you all the time. Then ask for a pact that you won't interrupt her with her friend, and she won't interrupt you with your friends unless it is an emergency and an interruption is absolutely necessary, which should only happen if someone is hurt or something dangerous is happening.

It's pretty common in kids that age. They are just so excited about everything and lack the self-discipline to control themselves. I suggest turning to your granddaughter, look her in the eye and in a firm voice say 'I am talking. Please do not interrupt. You may talk when I am finished.', then continue your conversation. Ignoring her won't do any good and at that age you need to deal with the behavoir immediately (discussing it later usually doesn't work until they are a little older). Good luck and bless you!!

Gosh, I would suggest that you never just put your hand over her mouth while not even looking at her. Believe it or not, this action could have long range repercussions for her. There already seems to be a problem developing in that she is acting 'needy'. It would be good to try and discern what is really going on.

In the meantime, try stopping your conversation and quietly saying something like "Grandmother is having a conversation with ---(name)--- at the moment. It is not nice to interrupt. When I am finished it will be your turn to tell me whatever you want." Then if she does it again after you have said that to her, turn to her with your finger over your mouth while saying "shhhh". The third time tell her gently that she is not being nice and, and if you are at home, ask her to quietly go to her room. If she continues, then tell her you are not going to hear her when she is misbehaving, and then ignore her - or if you prefer, and you can take her by the hand to her room. Of, course, then you must be consistent with this procedure each time until she gets it. The person you are speaking with will understand and know what is going on.
Hope this helps.

I don't claim to be an expert on this, but I am in the middle of disciplining my own daughters on this matter as well. My older one has always been spirited/high need. One positive parenting book told me to say to the older daughter (especially if you have two kids and you don't want sibling rivaly), "What you have to say is important to me, and I want you to have my undivided attention. It's your sister's turn to speak right now and what she has to say is important too. I'll let you know as soon as I'm done." Another parenting book told me that we need to look at this as a long-term teaching opportunity (e.g. when they are an adult using a blue-tooth phone and another adult approaches to try to speak to him/her), so just pointing a finger up in the air is a good signal to teach. Yet another positive parenting book told me that I need to look at myself to see if I'm modeling the same behavior (e.g. when my child is in the middle of a job/play, do I say, "Look at the pretty butterfly/bird outside the window!"

Hi C.,
We use the same method as Traci L. It took some time, but it works with our 4 y/o DD.

My 8 year old son was an interrupter. My 4 year old daughter IS an interrupter. My son has gotten much better, but we are still working on my daughter. My husband and I usually put up one finger, then continue talking. If she interrupts again, I put my finger on her lips. If she does it again (usually the finger on the lips does the trick) then one of us will turn to her and say, "You are interrupting, wait until we finish, then you can talk." Sometimes it works better than others, but when we finish with our thought, sentence, converstation, then we will turn to her and ask her what she wanted to tell us.

Repetition worked with our son, and we are hoping that the same will be with our daughter. You should be consistent though, in whatever you choose to do. Eventually she'll get it. The positive reinforcement along with the reprimand should eventually click in her little head.

We also use a saying when one of the kids, or both sometimes, interrupts us, "Is there blood, flood or fire?" If the answer is NO, then we tell them to wait.

Wow, you got so many responces.

One thing I did not notice mentioned, is positive praise for doing it the way you want. For my kids it really helps if I can pre-warn them that I will be unavailable unless of course it is a true emergency. ________ is coming over and we need to have an adult conversation. What are you allowed to be doing durring that time? Ask me what ever it is you will need to know now. After, I say I really appreciate you giving me the time I needed. Way to go for working ______ out with out me. Or what ever kind of praise you can come up with. If it is a long visit I will excuse myself and check in with the kids. ______ and I are not finished. I know it is taking a while I just wanted to see if you needed anything.

Good for you for seeking ideas!

Stop it now, otherwise it will get worse and worse. My son has had a problem with the same thing. The way I have handled it was I said excuse me to the person I was talking to, I got down at Eye Level with my son and told him that it is rude to interrupt when I am talking and made him stand and wait until a good break point in my conversation. I didn't make him wait hours but did make him wait a few minutes. It has taken several times but has been working and he doesn't interrupt because he knows when I get to a break point I will see what he needs and then finish my conversation.

My 5 year old started this and it is so much better now. I first stop my conversation and let him know that someone is talking (also you will be surprised to know that many times children are following someone's example for our child they were picking up on my mother's lack of manners. She does not mean to do it she is just needed some extra attention these days) and it is important to use our manners and be patient. Then if he is patient he earns a manners rock which is placed in a jar and a prize from the dollar store is given once the jar is filled. I first let the person know that I was cutting the conversation short with a wink and then praised him for his patience. As he became better I was able to let the person finish the whole story before the praise. Sounds like grand daughter may need some extra attention as well.

Think about how you would feel if someone you interrupted (and we all do) put their hand over your mouth without otherwise acknowlodging you. Be honest. What do you wish they would have done? Just think about it and I trust you'll know what to do. Remember you are helping to raise your granddaughter to womanhood. Treat her like you would like to be treated when you make a mistake and explain it to her so that she understands why manners are important. Teach her about conversation with others, talking and listening to other people help us grow. My guess is that she honestly doesn't know. Work out a plan with her (like putting your finger to your lips and saying shhh) when she makes the mistake again and tell her to do the same with you if you make the mistake. I believe that will help her to recognize the habit of interupting quicker. Children want to please. Acknowledge her for this. You will also develop a closer relationship of love and trust, and become a better grandma because of this opportunity she is giving to you.

TAry to teach her to say excuse me and let her know that you will ignore her when she interrupts if she doesn't do it.

My Aunt taught her children to do the following and they still do it today in their teens. If she is talking on the phone or to someone else and they want her attention, they come to her and put their hand on her somewhere (leg, arm, hand, whatever) but they don't say anything. Then she looks at them to acknowledge she knows they are there but she keeps talking. When she is at a point where she can stop talking and give them attention, then she does. It works hecka good for her but I keep forgetting to work it with my 4 year old daughter! This is a good reminder for me.

Reach out and touch her hand and say "please wait". Then look back at the person you are conversing with. You can continue to hold her hand, which will reassure her that you realize she is there. When the person you are conversing with is done speaking, say "excuse me a minute" and then ask your granddaughter what she wants to tell you. You can then tell her that you are having a conversation. Putting your hand on her mouth conveys disrespect for her as a person. You are trying to lovingly teach her some manners. You are a very important person in her life and she is probably in need of reassurance due to the circumstances that have caused you to be the one raising her. Assure her that you are interested in what she has to say, but would like her to wait when another person is speaking because none of us like to be interrupted.

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