Parenting Tips

Parenting Tip: The Interrupt Rule

Thank you, House of Hendrix, for changing my life.

Before I read Allison’s post about The Interrupt Rule, I was struggling with my three-and-a-half-year-old and her tendency to interrupt my conversations. The only thing worse than the Bean saying “Mommy? Mommy? Mommy!” until my last shred of patience is gone, is her saying “Mommy? Mommy? Mommy!” while I am speaking with another adult. It’s distracting, it’s irritating, it’s rude, and it goes against my Number 1 Rule: Don’t Be an Asshole.

The hubster and I taught The Bean to say “excuse me”, but she hasn’t grasped the “only interrupt when it’s an emergency” part yet, so even the “polite interruptions” (read: her repeating “excuse me” over and over again until she has our full attention), drive my nerves to suicide.

I love Hendrix’s Interrupt Rule because it doesn’t involve any verbal cues at all. The child simply comes to you and puts her hand on your arm when she wants your attention. Then, you place your hand on top of hers to silently say “I know you need to speak to me, and I will be with you in a moment.” You keep talking; your child waits for a natural break in the conversation when you can properly address her. It’s like magic! This system was a game changer for us.

I introduced the Interrupt Rule mid-conversation one day when my daughter was trying to get my attention using her usual Stewie Griffin method. Butterbean ate this rule up immediately. I think she likes it because I acknowledge her right away (as opposed to before, when I would pointedly ignore her until either my conversation ended or until I couldn’t take her mommy-ing anymore). Thanks to the rule, the Bean and I are now more considerate of our guests, and each other.

The only down side is your child has to be in a setting where walking up to you and putting her hand on your arm is convenient. It’s not always practical in a place like a restaurant unless she is sitting directly beside you. Maybe we’ll work on a hand-raising system for that. Also on my “To Work On” list: defining exactly what does and does not constitute an emergency.

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2 thoughts on “Parenting Tip: The Interrupt Rule

  1. Awe, thank you so much for your sweet comments! I am so glad this worked for you as well. amazing how such a simple idea could change our dynamic in such a powerful way. As the kids get older, it is equally as fabulous. Thanks again.

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