Years ago, when Paolo and I just had one child, we hosted an American family who had several kids. Over dinner conversations, one child would interrupt his dad and he would just raise a finger to that child and carry on with his conversation. After the dad finishes his conversation, that’s the only time he would give his attention to his child. I would always feel sorry for that child who, in my inexperienced mind, was ignored by his dad. Didn’t the dad have to drop his adult conversation to give attention to his own child?
Today, having 4 kids, I often find myself doing the same thing to my children. It is quite a challenge to carry on a decent conversation with my husband with 4 kids around who all constantly demand my attention. What I now realize is that American guest of ours was teaching their kids to wait their turn. Most children lack patience. When they want our attention, they want it right away. Our kids often interrupt us and when they do, we need to teach them to wait their turn. Interrupting also shows disrespect for the people who are conversing.
Whenever a child of ours interrupts, (or often it is 3 kids interrupting all at the same time) we tell them “I’m sorry I am in the middle of a conversation.” Or we give their arm a gentle squeeze to communicate to them that now’s not a good time but we are aware they want to tell us something. As soon as we are done, we make sure to give them our undivided attention.
If we are successful in this, our kids will develop the patience and self-control to wait their turn in other things as well like playing with a toy or using the computer. They will also learn to respect other’s needs and put them before their own.