I heard recently that toddlers interrupt their mothers nearly 400 times a day. That is roughly 40 times during every single waking hour of their day! I find this number to be astronomical – yet completely believable. I mean, how many times have we answered question after question when we are in the middle of another conversation, or have had to finally acknowledge the “Mom? Mom? Mom?” after ignoring it (or not even hearing it, as we’ve become so used to tuning it out) the first 20 times?
Interrupting is one of a toddler’s many overused traits. And it’s also proof that moms are adept at multi-tasking – carrying on a conversation with an adult while appeasing a toddler while balancing laundry on one hip and a baby on the other. But mostly, it’s the reason that it takes so long to get anything done around the house, and why we’re exhausted at the end of the day.
Ever notice how this interruptitis happens at the most inopportune moments of the day, when your attention is needed fully for something else? There is a reason. Your toddler wants your undivided attention, and will compete with anything or anyone that is trying to take that away from him or her. In a toddler’s world, everything revolves around them. And when it doesn’t, they will fight to make sure their world is back in order.
As frustrating as this is, understand that your toddler has no idea that interrupting is rude. But, there are some ways to help encourage your toddler to wait their turn. If you need to give your attention to anything other than them, plan it out by giving them something to occupy their time – such as an old phone to use so they can “talk” while you are on the phone. Or maybe let them have a few minutes of talk time on the phone with whoever you are talking to – if they can sit patiently for the first few minutes. Acknowledge your toddler every time they do show patience for your attention, reinforcing the importance of waiting their turn with praise. Pull them into your lap or give them some sort of physical contact when you are talking with a friend so that they still feel nurtured by you even when you aren’t talking to them. Have them help you with tasks around the house. Even if chores will take longer with a toddler’s help, it is still faster than stopping every 2 minutes to entertain them. Let your child time you with an egg timer when you need to be uninterrupted, allowing them to come to you only after hearing the “ding”. And finally, save those long conversations and busywork until after your toddler goes to bed. After all, a few minutes to us feels like an eternity to a toddler. And what they crave most is undivided attention from you.
What are some ways that YOU have helped curb your toddler’s interruptitis?