Look at the couple above. This picture puts a smile on my face...and a little jealousy in my heart. They look so relaxed and appear to really enjoy each others company. They are having quality conversation and no interruption.
Sounds marvelous, doesn't it?
In the last few weeks we have talked at great length about the importance of Mommy-and-Daddy time. Time for the couple to reconnect after a long day. One of our ABCJLM family members asked this question:
Good question.How do I teach my 4-year-old patience while mommy and daddy are speaking? The 4-year-old wants to talk ALL OF THE TIME. Sometimes it is hard to have a conversation.
Even though children desperately need and desire a solid marriage from their parents, the sin nature takes over and they demand attention. Unfortunately, this is one of mommy and daddy's jobs - help the child turn from his sinful way and choose to live God's way.
Techniques to help mold a respectful and unselfish child:
1. Prepare the child and set expectations.
Before Daddy comes home from work, sit the child down and explain the expectations for when Daddy enters the door. Here is an example: Allow the child five minutes to hug and love on Daddy. When the timer goes off, the child is to go to a designated spot and play to allow Mommy and Daddy time to talk. Explain that Mommy and Daddy love each other and want to talk and that as soon as the conversation is over, Daddy will come get the child to play.
2. Give the child a sign to use when adults are talking.
If I am talking to another adult but my children have a question, they know that they can come and place their hand on my arm or leg. I gently place my hand on top of their hand letting them know that I will get to them as soon as a lull in the conversation occurs. This gives the child a practical way to handle his needs with respect and also allows him to know that you recognize the need.
3. When Interruptions Occur
When the child impolitely interrupts an adult conversation, say "excuse me" to the other adult. Either lean down to the child's level or remove the child from the situation. Quietly talking to the child while naming the offense (disrespect, impatient) and remind the child the proper way to get mommy's attention.
4. Remove the Child
If a child can not wait patiently for his/her time to talk, simply remove the child from the room. This shows a lack of self-control, patience, gentleness, peace, kindness, and love for the adults talking. Often times, simply removing the child will be enough to make the child gain control.
5. Observe Where and When This is Occurring
Is this problem occurring only when his parents are talking or does he act impatient around other adults as well? Typically it is a problem across the board.
6. Polite Interruptions are Still Interruptions
There is a little girl in our life who says "excuse me, excuse me" over and over and over. Very polite but still impatient. Even though it sound more politically correct, she may as well be saying, "hey, hey" because the attitude shows a lack of self-control.
7. Daddy Comes First
Our children have been told many, many times that Daddy comes first. Before you gasp in horror, our children know that they are loved but they also know that their Mommy loves their Daddy. And when Mommy and Daddy are talking, they are to wait their turn. I promise...there is safety for children in knowing that Mommy loves Daddy.
8. Read Books or Bible Stories that Pertain to the Fruit of the Spirit
The ABCJLM 4 Year Curriculum and parts of the 5 Year Curriculum focus on character education. Interrupting is a heart issue and must be dealt with in that way.
9. Role Play
Using super heros, bears, or dolls to role play situations is one of the best way to teach your child a new procedure or expectation.
Our children are not perfect and they will still interrupt at times. But in using the proper tools and focusing on the heart issue, we can teach our children that Mommy-and-Daddy conversations are of top importance.
How have you taught your child respect during adult conversations?