In a culture of interruption, two great ways to teach a child one of life's most basic values.

by Babs Hadjusiewicz April 01, 2015

05br270 Interrupting a Talker is not only impolite; it could lead to totally-erroneous information. Just this morning, I nearly interrupted my senior friend's sentence. She was telling about her having recently taken some drug. She told how it had "helped her get pr–..." Immediately I knew -- or thought I knew -- what she was about to say, and it was a slightly impish thought at that. And how badly I wanted to interrupt with an all-important-to-me thought on where her sentence sounded like it was heading. But, no. I kept my listening ears politely tuned, all the while thinking about what Great Interrupters we adults are.


Take a moment and listen to two adults in conversation. It's shocking the number of times Great Interrupters act totally oblivious to the fact that someone else is holding the Talking Stick. Yet, we expect far-different behavior from children. We teach and preach; we jabber and clabber about the necessity of not interrupting others. So who's practicing all that teaching and preaching and jabbering and clabbering? Who's modeling some be-silent-and-listen-when-another-person-is-talking behavior? Google good manners or not interrupting and you'll get lots of results. You'll see lists and narratives that preach ways to teach children to take on that good manner of being keep ears open and tongues still when someone else is talking. I say it's time to forget the preaching and toss the lists. Time for us Great Interrupters to begin practicing what we'd like children to do. Yes! Teaching the good-listening skill––of not interrupting––really involves just two concerns for a listener:

1) To be polite; and

2) To gain correct information.

And there you have...oops, another list? Yes, but that two-point list and this next two-pointer contain doable and practical things we can do, you and I partnering up, to: 1) Model being polite by respecting the person who's holding the Talking Stick, as in ceasing to be a Great Interrupter. Incorporating a Talking Stick can be telling...and fun for the whole family. Whoever has it...gets to talk as others listen. And when the dog gets the Talking Stick, well.... 2) Model how interrupting someone's sentence can lead to taking in all sorts of misinformation. Share with children age-appropriate examples in fun and meaningful ways, such as, "Gosh, I'm sure glad I listened to you until you were done talking. If I had interrupted you just now when you were saying how you wanted to go [swimming; to bed; home; back; upstairs; out; to your room; etc.], I could have misunderstood and thought you wanted to go [take out the trash; to the dentist; to your room; do your chores; etc.]. Yes, I am glad I didn't interrupt you!" The rest of that senior story? Oh, in truth, my friend was merely saying how the drug had helped her get "...prepared for a surgical procedure." A far cry from the word I'd been tempted to interject. The Talking Stick was listening job was to avoid being a Great Interrupter.

Copyright © 2015 Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz

Babs Hadjusiewicz
Babs Hadjusiewicz


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