23 answers

Toddler Won't Let Mommy & Daddy to Talk to Each Other

We have an incredibly verbal almost 2 1/2 year old. My husband's and my work schedules are such that we really only get to talk to each other over dinner and on Sundays. And we both end up spending a day or two each week with our daughter one-on-one. This works great for a lot of things. But she has apparently decided she should be the center of attention all the time. Yeah, I know, she's a toddler, so no real surprise. Anyway she constantly interrupts if we try to talk to each other, or will just start singing or talking loudly to drowned us out. She will even get animated and say, "no Daddy no" if he tries to talk to me instead of her. Of course we thought it was cute/funny at first, so we probably let it go too far before initiating corrective measures. But now it is really bad, especially at dinner when we are trying to catch up on each other's day. And forget trying to have a conversation at a restaurant! We definitely include her in the conversation and encourage her to talk about her day at "school" too. But most any time the conversation turns away from her she gets irritated. It annoys me a little, but I tolerate it. However, it drives my husband INSANE. And he gets really frustrated and angry. So my question is, how much of this is completely typical and how much should we battle it. Is she old enough at not-quite-2 1/2 to understand that she shouldn't interrupt us (at least not constantly). Or is that a battle better saved for a later date? We've tried telling her that, "Mommy and Daddy need to talk to each other too", and "Sweetie, that's not a nice way to talk to us", and so on. But she is a very strong-willed, persistent child. So we aren't getting very far. I want our family dinner time to be fun, but also peaceful and low stress. Any suggestions?

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She should be old enough to say, "please don't interrupt us when we are talking". The sooner you get her to understand that, the easier it will be for the both of you (especially when you get on the phone).

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Updated

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Help is coming!k

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She is old enough to know that it is rude to interrupt adults who are talking. If she interrupts, I would ignore first so she knows she is not getting your attention. When you are done speaking turn to her and say that if she would like to interrupt she needs to say "excuse me" and wait until you answer her. She only needs to say excuse me once, not over and over. If she doesn't wait and starts interrupting I would remove her from the table and ask her to wait in her room until she is ready to behave. If you are out I would walk away from her. Give her as little attention as possible and keep reminding her that interrupting is rude. Be firm and she will get the concept. Honestly it drives me batty too when my daughter would do this and we started around age 2 correcting the problem. She is 3.5 now and rarely interrupts us as she knows she will be sent to her room if she can't have manners at the dinner table. I know alot of people will think me extreme-but manners are just one of those things that are a priority in my house and I expect them. Teaching them early is the best way to see good results.

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I suggest setting up "couch time". It is important that you show your daughter that a relationship between you and your husband exists without her.

Couch time is easily achieved but takes dedication and practice. Tell your daughter that mommy and daddy need to talk. Start with 2 minutes.

Set a timer (microwave will work) and go sit on the couch together for 2 minutes. Expect some resistance. Be firm in the beginning and tell her sternly that she may not disrupt couch time until the timer goes off.

If she tries to get up on the couch, give a stern warning that she is not to interrupt mommy and daddy until the timer goes off. Then if she tries again, place her back down on the ground with no eye contact or verbal expression. You may spend the whole two minutes doing this at first but it's important that you maintain eye contact with your husband and keep talking. (also remember no attention after the first stern warning)

Once your daughter realizes there is nothing to be gained by interrupting (no attention) she will stop. After the timer goes off, give lots of praise for not interrupting, maybe even a treat or some one-on-one time.

2 minutes is the beginning. Slowly work your way up to however much you feel appropriate. My husband and I have 15 minutes of couch time after dinner while our children play with their toys in their toy room. After 3 days of our first attempt at couch time, they learned that they were not to interrupt and never bothered trying again.

I applaud you for wanting to put your marriage first. What better gift could we give our children!

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She should be old enough to say, "please don't interrupt us when we are talking". The sooner you get her to understand that, the easier it will be for the both of you (especially when you get on the phone).

2 moms found this helpful

Of course we actively model and teach our son about not interrupting, but I figured out a way to relay information to each other when my son is present without dealing with the potential for interpretations. We actually did this when he was a bit younger (he's 3 now). When my husband and I would talk at the dinner table, we would actually look at my son while we were talking and say the words with a bit more animation so my son thought we were talking to him. He would listen so intently and shake his head yes and look to my husband or I to respond. He had NO idea what we were talking about, but he didn't care because he thought we were talking to HIM!! It was hard to do this without cracking up, but we used the technique when necessary. LOL!!

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I have a little over 2.5 y/o year old and am trying to teach her not to interrupt...it makes me CRAZY when adults do it...as a matter of fact, I'll usually make it known (as nicely as possible) What I do when my daughter comes (and she ALWAYS does) talking in the midst of a conversation is...I will touch her or pull her close to me with my arm around her and DO NOT STOP TALKING. Then as soon as I get to the end of my sentence or to a stopping point I will turn my attention to her. ..and when she has started to comply...when I get to the end of my sentence I get very excited AT her...kudos, high pitched voice and all that. I do not allow her to interrupt. As long as everyone is on the same page it works pretty well.
This is the same technique I used with my boys and they are much older...and do NOT interrupt!

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A gentleman posted a similar question earlier today.. you might want to peruse the responses to his question as well.

Since your daughter is a bit younger than the earlier post.. I would say that in addition to teaching her that it is disrespectful to interrupt adults talking (barring an emergency), you should try playing games with her where you are required to take turns. When you each have your one-on-one time with her... there is no waiting her turn involved! Teach her how to do that. Then, as she grasps the concept.. you use it in dinnertime conversation as well. "We take turns talking at dinner. Daddy is talking about ___ so when we are finished with that subject, then it is Mommy's turn. Then when we are done with Mommy's turn.. it will be your turn. Then it'll be Daddy's turn again, and so on ." She is young yet.. but dinner should be enjoyable for ALL of you.. not just her. :)

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It's not just toddlers who do this....I have 3 children ages 3 1/2, 7 1/2, and 10. They ALL do it! Annoying yes but you most certainly have to get a handle on this. When my children interrupt us when talking, we stop talking and very briefly (no long dissertation) explain that we grown up are talking and it's rude to interrupt and if they interrupt again, they will go to their room, then we grown ups resume our conversation. IF we get interrupted again (which is likely), we ignore them. If their noise gets loud, which often does (it's our attention they want) one of us stops talking and brings the child to their room and tell them, "I'm putting you here because you interrupted us when I told you not to). Close the door and go back to talking to your grown up. Keep bringing them back to the room if they come out and interrupt again. My method doesn't work all the time but most of the time it does. It's helpful if you pay attention to the child before you engage in conversation....maybe a little snack to keep her occupied and explain that you and daddy will start talking soon and she must learn to be quiet when mommy and daddy are talking. It's a frustrating phase that we all go through.

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Teach her that she needs to raise her hand to speak or have a turn.... and then, just like in school... she need to wait her turn. Just a few seconds of waiting. And do that repeatedly... because kids learn by repetition.

Sure, she is young, this is what they do... and many kids do that at that age.
But you also need to teach her manners.
When my kids do that... we tell them "wait your turn... Mommy & Daddy are talking now..." we say it in a firm way... not baby-talk way. Just plain and direct. Then we look them in the eye for a few seconds... then continue with our conversation. Then, we say "Okay your turn..."
Or, we tell our kids to raise their hand or taught them to say "excuse me" first.... and when they are talking, and if we want to talk... we also "raise" our hand... for our turn. Or we say "excuse me, when you are done, I want to say something too..."

What my Husband also does.. is he teaches our kids, that there is "adult time" TOO. So that the kids do not think that EVERYTHING revolves around them. To respect adults. His thinking is that, otherwise, kids think that everything and anything revolves around them. And that kids should learn that Adults, have priority too. His parents did that... so that is his tack on it.

All the best,
Susan

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I think it's normal for that age. My daughter is also 2.5 and does the same thing. We will ask her to wait and take turns. At dinner for example we will have one adult take a turn, then her, then the next adult. After a while she usually settles and we can have a normal conversation.
If she throws a tantrum over having to wait her turn, she will get a time out, which is the standard discipline at our house. Just be persistent.
Good luck!

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The father who posted earlier today was named Crusty. I'd look-up his profile as Victoria suggested.

I'd recommend starting to teach her to say, "Excuse me". A former preschool teacher, Amy, had some great advice in the thread from earlier today.

Good luck. Such a fun age, but so taxing on our patience as well.

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Maybe you can incorporate it into the training of taking turns... I am sure she is having to learn that about toys, playground equipment, etc. If she doesnt take turns, remove her from the scene, etc.

It is normal behavior, but impolite behavior. She is learning that she can dominate your attention. We tell our children it's rude to interrupt anyone when they are talking and to wait their turn. The first time they interrupt, it's a warning. The second time, its a minute in the corner alone. They are generally pretty good and frequently realize immediately they've interrupted. After which, they wait patiently for their turn to talk. The important things is to make sure that when we have said what we wanted, we give them a minute or two to say what they wanted before we continue. Even our three year old knows that if I hold up my finger, it means to wait and let the person speaking finish first. If he is trying to get in on a hug or kiss, he has to wait his turn. Then he gets onr of his own. We had a few nights where things were getting chaotic at the dinner table. My husbands solution was to grab a can and place it on someone's placemat. When they had the can, they talked. Then they had to pass it on so that someone else could speak. It was like a game and it quieted the meal down quite a bit.

She is definately old enough to learn not to do this! Since obviously this is her wanting attention, I'd suggest trying corrective measures that take away attention when she does this. Send her away from the dinner table (to a time-out) or call for "Silent time" for her, such as two (at least, it depends on her attention span) minutes where she isn't allowed to join in conversation after she interrupts. Maybe walking out of the room, say to the hallway or next room, and not allowing her to follow unless she can be respectful to your right to talk to your spouse.

Also, this could be "mine" issue. As in you are "HER" mommy, he is "HER" daddy, and she doesn't want to share ya'll, even with each other. After all, it's a very common trait in young childern to think of everything as theirs alone. It might be a good idea to try and get her to understand you are also Daddy's wife, Daddy is your husband and that famalies all belong to each other. Just an idea.... Good luck!!!

Depending on how much time she has with you, I think her desire to be included is perfectly normal. And dinner time is family time, not couple time. What you can do is start by getting her to let you finish sentences, and just hold out longer than she does. Then she can progress to waiting for a few minutes before she can contribute. Expecting her to let you carry on an entire conversation is unrealistic, especially at this age. What you can do is try to feed her a little earlier, focus on her during her dinner, then let her go play by herself so you and your husband can talk. Or eat together, put her to bed, then have some couple time before one of you gets back to work. Two days per week that's just her really isn't satisfying her desire for parent time, and certainly not family time. My daughter prefers family time to one-parent time, so they do know the difference.
You can do time-outs for yelling or screeching or bad manners, as long as you are consistent with every time she yells, screeches, etc. My daughter is 3 now and we are having much more success getting her to wait her turn in the conversation now. I don't remember it working very well even 6 months ago. Good luck. This is a small step sort of behavior change. And it also sounds like you need to take time out for you and your husband to have a date. If he's getting that upset at basically normal behavior for a toddler because he really needs to connect with you, both of you really need a date.

It's all about control for kids. You have unknowingly given her control she should not have. Now it's time for cause and effect type consequences. Tell her we have a new rule in our house and if you interrupt us again when we are trying to talk, kiss etc...then you shall......(fill in the blank). Guranteed she will stop when negative consequences start hitting her left and right. Make the consequences things like going to her room and sitting, taking a favorite toy away for good, no storytime before bed, etc.....make it good so she gets the message. This behavior will change very quickly when you chnage.

lol girls always wants the mans attention at least it is her daddy ,daddy's girls you both need to be more patient for she is not going any where,your husband is the type of man she will want to marry ,sorry you had her now you have to share your husband with her her DADDY.good luck an have fun

Peaceful, fun, low stress family dinners? I want to come to your house!

Seriously, this is an issue that all parents deal with. I think you've gotten good advice about asking her to be quiet while you're talking, but just know that you are going to be reminding her for a long long time. I would just try to remember that your day is extremely boring to her, so you're basically asking her to sit though what seems like an eternally long conversation about something that she couldn't care less about. She should learn, but she is only going to be able to do it in short bursts.

To me the bigger issue is that she is purposefully not letting you and your husband talk to each other. I feel like here she's trying to assert that she's the whole of your world. When my kids do this, I respond by saying "I love you, and I love daddy too, and I need to talk to him for a little bit." I think that's a good thing to model as well.

Good luck. I think there might be a short period when the kids are about 8 years old where family dinner will be just lovely : )

She is definetly not to young to ask her to please be quiet. Use your finger motion to your lips and say "no". If you don't stop her now she will continue to be vocal and it will only get worse, so you have to put the lid on it now unfortunately. If she is smart and incredibly verbal then she will understand what your telling her. If she continues' put her on a time out, not for long because within a 5min. period she will forget why shes' there, so don't push for longer than that. She will soon get the hint that she is not to speak when others are speaking either. Best of luck, I know we all let them away with so much more than we should and we can only blame ourselves unfortunately.

I'm with your husband--it would drive me crazy too! Not only is it interfering with the relationship between the two of you, but is going to hinder her relationships with others as well. I would explain to her that when it is her time to talk, you don't interrupt her, and when it is your time to talk, it isn't appropriate to interrupt you either. If the behavior continued, I would remove her from the situation. Since she seems to demonstrate so many attention-seeking behaviors, I am guessing that this will put a stop to it QUICK!

WOW.. we have the same issue. But it doesnt happen all the time. Our only daughter loves to have all my attention and doesnt like to share me with her dad. My husband hates it too. We have tried to re-direct, be stern, tell her that is rude, etc. Lately, I tell her that "I love daddy and that is why I like talking to hime - just like I love you and love talking you". I'm sure she'll outgrow it as time passes. In the meantime, it has to be addressed so she learns boundaries and manners. =)

I just heard YokaReeder is coming!!! This woman is brilliant, and it will bethe last weekend in May or 1st in June- I'l post it here asap- she'll have thesane answer!!
Help is coming!k

Updated

I just heard YokaReeder is coming!!! This woman is brilliant, and it will bethe last weekend in May or 1st in June- I'l post it here asap- she'll have thesane answer!!
Help is coming!k

Our nephew lived with us for a period of time, at about that age.
If my husband came up to hug me, he'd push himself between us saying, "no, no....you can't love him. You have to love me!" Then he'd tell my husband, "you can't love her, you have to love only me."

I think for him, it was a jealousy thing. He wanted everybody to only love him, and not anybody else.

Many times I asked, "Well, you love me and Uncle John right? You love grandpa, right" "Yes" Well, you love more than one person, why can't we love more than one person?"
It took a long time, though, or him to stop doing that to us!

Maybe part of your daughter's problem is jealousy?

I have to side with your husband on this one. If she is old enough to command the situation, she is old enough to start learning to respect her parents. There is nothing wrong with teaching children lessons like taking turns, not to inturupt, to respect others, and that there are other people in the world. I would begin the battle now while it is still fairly easy, the older she gets the more difficult it will be.

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