The interrupt rule

Does your child constantly interrupt you? Are you frustrated or embarrassed by your child’s behavior when he interrupts? Do you know what to do about it?

Whether the child speaks out of turn, tugs on your pant leg or goes so far as to yank your arm to tear you away from your conversation, an interrupting child is never a joy.

The Ezzos implore us to teach our children how to interrupt.

“There is a better way. Teach your child how to interrupt your conversation politely. This is another practical way of showing respect to others,” (On Becoming Childwise, p. 99).

There is a simple technique to teach children how to politely get your attention.

“When your child needs to interrupt, teach him to place a hand on your side, shoulder, or arm and then wait the few moments it will take for you to acknowledge him,” (On Becoming Childwise,┬áp. 99).

Be sure to take the time to acknowledge the child, or his polite interruption will become a rude one.

“When your child puts his hand on your side, take your hand and place it on his, gently squeezing it. This lets him know that you know he is there,” (On Becoming Childwise, p. 99).

Understand that teaching the interrupt rule has many more effects than teaching a child to be polite. Some benefits include:

  • It becomes a means for the child to give honor to others while at the same time communicating his need to the parent.
  • The child learns to trust that the parent will meet his needs in an orderly way.
  • It helps the child to grow in the discipline of patience.
  • It reinforces the positive side of the child’s conscience. Confirmation comes from within the heart of the child as well as from without.
  • It communicates to the third party involved the standards of respect and honor by which you as a family are living. (On Becoming Childwise, p. 100).

What more could we want? Take the time to teach this simple technique to your child.


  1. I have a 2.6 year-old daughter but haven’t read On Becoming Childwise yet (I’m from Brazil and we don’t have it here). I didn’t know about this rule, but have already felt uncomfortable with the way she screams to call our attention no matter what we are doing (like talking on the phone or having a conversation at the table). I’ve tried telling her to be patient and to call once and wait for our reply, but this is tip you are sharing sounds so much more practical. Ezzo wisdom! Thanks for posting. I’m going to try it!

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