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My three-and-a-half year old son talks constantly. Its pretty much a non-stop monolog from the time he wakes up until the time he falls asleep.

We're okay with this, and try not to discourage his language development or speech.

Lately, he has gotten into the habit of interrupting others who are already talking.

We try reminding him not to interrupt when he does so, and generally don't acknowledge what he's talking about if he's interrupted until he's waited for us to stop speaking.

However, it doesn't seem to be improving. Additionally, the fact that he talks so much makes it hard for us to not wind up interrupting him, which makes it hard to be good role models for not interrupting.

What is the best way to proceed?

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2 Answers 2

The way we deal with my almost-three year old when he interrupts is to remind him the polite way to ask for our attention, every time. "Mommy and daddy are talking right now; if you want to talk to us, wait for a pause in the conversation and then say 'Mommy, can I talk now?" Then we confirm that he understands, and go back to talking. What I think is important about this approach is that we give him the right way to handle the general problem of ("I want Mommy to talk to me").

We don't ignore him when he does it, for a similar reason to why we don't ignore him when he's hitting us; the interruption is a behavior we want to correct. However, we don't allow his interruption to keep us from talking, either; we always go back to finishing our conversation (perhaps abbreviated).

It is likely a sign of needing attention if it's happening regularly. We try to acknowledge that when we correct him; we often start with "We know you need our attention sometimes, but it's not okay to interrupt us while we're talking. We sometimes have to talk to each other, too."

This largely has worked; he usually stops after one interruption now. Some of this is probably a feature of how much attention he's getting; when we do talk, we make a conscious effort to involve him most of the time. Some of the improvement, though, has come with his ability to play by himself and talk to himself (verbalizing play). As that improved, he needed to interrupt us less.

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The best way I have heard (and that we use at home) is to give the child a sign to use. My daughter will raise her hand, because that's what she has learned in school. For a smaller child, it might be something as simple as taking your hand. Then, you need a sign to give back to him to indicate that you know he has something to say and that he can speak when you've finished. Maybe squeeze his hand gently. Then, when you reach a stopping place in your conversation, turn to the child and ask him what he wanted to say.

While he's learning to use this method, he will keep interrupting. My 7-year-old still interrupts, and we just say, mommy and daddy (or whoever) are talking now, you need to wait. So I think you're doing the right thing to not give in to it, but do reward him when he remembers by quickly wrapping up and letting him speak.

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