How to teach your child to interrupt, respectfully

If your child is constantly interrupting whenever you’re on the phone, or you are in the middle of doing something, this is a perfect technique for you to try.

This type of interrupting teaches your child that it is OK to have something important to say, but there is a special way to share that information. 

The quiet hand

A pretext to this new technique is to have the conversation around your feelings. For instance, let your child know, “I feel frustrated when you interrupt me on the phone by screaming at me” (Tailor to your feelings and the action).

This helps your child understand why their behavior isn’t effective to gain your attention.

Teaching this new technique is going to require some patience (like all of parenting). Explain to your child, when they have something important or exciting to share when you are unavailable, the best way to get your attention is by placing their hand on your leg or your shoulder QUIETLY. 

In return, you will place your hand on their to let them know you will be with them as soon as you are finished. 

In addition, you can teach them the signal that will remind them how to appropriately show they have something to say. This reminder signal is you tapping your shoulder; this shows your child what they need to do in order to gain effective attention.

Children have a desire to be seen and heard, it is a signifiant part of how they gauge their self-worth. When adults acknowledge children, it reinforced the belief that adults are interested in what said child(ren) has to say.


In the early stages of teaching this, be mindful of how long it takes you to “finish” what you are working on during the respectful interruption. This is a new skill for your child and if you make them wait a really long time the first few times, your child won’t believe the system works. 

And just like everything in parenting. Consistency is KEY. If it isn’t working the first couple of times, don’t give up. You need to stay calm and keep gesturing the reminder tap. Your child will catch on so long as you stick to the technique. If you go off the path and react when your child is interrupting disrespectfully, you are just starting back at square one. But that’s OK, we’re all human.

Practice makes better!

xx Kelsey

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