Children need to learn patience. They need to learn that even though they tend to always get mom or dads attention, sometimes they just need to wait. As parents, we lead very busy lives, and sometimes we just need 20 minutes to get a task done without interruptions.  Typically we give our children 110% of our time, energy, and attention; but there are times when we need to talk to other adults, or get important work done that requires our full attention – leaving our children to entertain themselves for a short period of time.

 How can we help our preschoolers learn to not interrupt us?

  • Prepare your child ahead of time – Explain that you will be on the phone for the next 20 minutes and cannot be disturbed.
  • Explain the rules – decide on a few rules (2 or 3) that your child will follow when you are busy. Have your child repeat the rules that had been given.
  • Talk about rewards – Tell your child that if they follow the rules while you are busy, they will get a reward. This could be as simple as playing tag together, or a bowl of ice cream.
  • Talk about consequences – Tell your child what will happen if they break the rules while you are busy. Explain how you will use a quiet time, or time out.
  • Plan some activities for your child – Keep them busy with quiet games or activities such as coloring, puzzles, blocks.

How can we manage our children when we are busy?

  • Set your child up for success
    • Provide them an activity that they can keep busy at for a certain period of time. This may help them to not interrupt you.
  • Encourage the Desirable behaviors
    • Stop what you are doing periodically, and praise your child for behaving well and not interrupting you.
  • If misbehaviour does occur – tell your child what you want them to do
    • “Carly, stop interrupting me when I am speaking to your aunt; from now on, I want you to say, ‘Excuse me Dad’ and then wait for me to acknowledge you.”
  • Back up your instructions with Quiet time or Time out.
  • Return your child to their previous activity
  • Review how things went with your child
    • “Mason, you were very good at saying ‘excuse me’ today and patiently waiting your turn.”
    • “Jenny, Next time I am busy, let’s see if you can remember to play quietly until I come to you.”

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Adapted from Triple P Tip Sheet

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