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Why Does My Child Keep Interrupting? How Concerned Parents Can Understand and Address This Issue.

You learned long ago that it’s considered impolite to interrupt. 

But your kid didn’t get that memo. 

Lately, it feels like every time you’re in the middle of telling them something, they start talking over you, start talking to someone else, or else space out entirely…

You feel the heat spread to your face as you try to remember to take a deep breath and remind them to focus and listen to what you’re saying. 

Sometimes, you lose your temper. 

And who can blame you? Being constantly interrupted can be very trying and triggering for already frazzled parents to endure. 

If you’ve ever flown off the proverbial handle the 108th time your child has interrupted you—give yourself some grace. After all, you’re only human. 

But, it may help you to learn why this behavior is so common among kiddos and why it tends to happen. This way, you may have more tools to help your child interrupt less and you may have more emotional reserves on hand if they do interrupt you in the future. 

Without further interruption (see what we did there?)—let’s dive right in! 

Why do kids interrupt?

Social skills aren’t something we’re born knowing. They come with practice, experience, and direct instruction. 

And, for some kiddos, they’re harder to learn and master than for others. 

Just like you have to remind your child to say please and thank you—social skills and norms are not innate but learned through practice and reminders until they become second nature. 

Pragmatic language is our ability to use language for social purposes. 

Language is how we engage and interact with the world around us. All cultures have their own set of social norms and rules that govern how they use verbal and nonverbal communication. 

These rules and norms cover things like—

  • How close you should stand when speaking to someone

  • How we modify the volume of our voice for certain situations and interactions

  • The words we choose for specific situations 

  • How we use greetings 

  • Our use of body language 

  • Our ability to interpret nonverbal cues 

  • Our use of facial expressions 

  • And SO much more! 

Kids aren’t born knowing how to use social language skills—they learn them through navigating these types of situations, trial and error, and direct training. 

What parent hasn’t had to remind their child to say please and thank you over and over again? See—you’re already training them in pragmatic language skills! 

Young kids don’t yet have the ability to master important skills related to pragmatic language. 

Have you ever tried to explain to a two-year-old why they need to sit still or not interrupt at the dinner table? That’s a losing battle, friend. 

That’s because kids of this age and stage don’t yet have the ability or mental capacity to recognize and regulate their behavior as it relates to social language skills. 

But, by the time they enter the school system, they have much more expectations placed upon them for controlling their behavior and regulating their social skills. 

That’s why a lot of kids struggle at this stage. 

Think about it—your child is entering into a very structured environment, where they’re expected to sit still and be quiet and focused for long periods. 

If they attended preschool, they already have some formal practice with these skills, but elementary school is still a big leap from what’s expected of kids in preschool settings. 

Thankfully, modern educators understand this and are invested in helping kids learn and practice age-appropriate social language skills. 

This includes teaching kids when it’s okay to speak and when they should remain quiet. Your child learns how to raise their hand to notify their teacher that they have something to say, using a non-disruptive nonverbal signal that’s instantly recognizable in school systems across the country. 

But, for some kiddos, learning when and how to speak remains a big challenge. 

This is true for a few reasons. 

  1. First, kids live in the moment. And they don’t yet have the behavioral regulation skills to wait for the appropriate moment to say what’s on their mind. When your child has a thought—especially one they’re excited about—they tend to blurt it out immediately. 

When they’re scolded or asked to wait—it’s like trying to hold back a dam that’s about to burst or stop a volcano from erupting. They just can’t help themselves. 

  1. Some kids may have anxiety about navigating social situations. They may not know when or how to enter a conversation and may jump in at the wrong moment as a result. 

Think of it like the anticipation of catching a fly ball or sitting down at the right moment on the chairlift when skiing—trying to find the right moment can be tricky and cause worry. 

  1. Some kids struggle with picking up on social cues and following social norms in general. Conversations and dialogues can be tricky to navigate. These issues can be exacerbated when your child doesn’t pick up on social cues, understand social conventions, or have a good grasp on social rules. 

Now that you have a sense of some reasons your child interrupts, let’s explore some ways you can help them learn a different way to be a part of a conversation or get their needs met. 

How can I help my child learn to interrupt less? 

We all interrupt from time to time. Sometimes, interrupting is fine. Other times, however—it’s decidedly not. 

If your kiddo is a chronic interrupter, this behavior probably needs to be addressed. 

After all, you want them to succeed in social situations and to have the necessary tools to do so. You also want to feel less frustration when you notice them interrupting you or others regularly. 

You may feel irritated or even angry when your child interrupts—especially if they do it chronically. But getting upset doesn’t help the situation. In fact, it may have the opposite effect. And it usually ends up making you both feel bad in the end. 

Notice when you’re becoming activated and take a deep breath or a quick time out to help your system recalibrate before you address your child and their behavior. Every parent needs to take a pause now and then! 

Here are some tips to reduce your child’s interruptions and help make them aware of this behavior—

  • Acknowledge You See Them

  • When your kiddo is interrupting, you can give them a quick verbal or visual signal that you see them and will focus on them as soon as you can. This can be as simple as saying “I see you.” It can also involve nonverbal signals like holding up a finger, nodding at them, pointing at them, or putting your hand up. It’s a good idea to work out your signal system with your child. This is a great chance to talk with them about interrupting and develop a secret code between the two of you to help them be patient and reduce repeated interruptions. 

  • Set a Timer

  • Got a Zoom call and need quiet for a half hour? Set your kiddo up with a preferred activity and set a timer to help them know when it’s ok to come into the “Zoom Room” or ask for your attention. Amazon has a collection of adorable egg timers shaped like forest animals, all under $10. This can be a great way to not only reduce interruptions but also teach your child time management and awareness skills, as well as bolster their self-sufficiency when it comes to structured time. 

  • Be a Model

  • Showing is always better than telling when it comes to helping your child learn new skills. Notice if and when you interrupt others and say “Excuse me.” Apologize to your partner, friends, and child if you ever interrupt them. And when your kiddo demonstrates the good manners you’ve taught them, be sure to praise them for it. Positive reinforcement gives children the incentive they need to want to continue to practice the behavior you’re addressing. 

  • Practice Makes Perfect

  • Remember how we said that social skills are learned? Well, learning new skills takes practice! Modeling is a great way to showcase social skills in action. Another great way to teach social skills is by using social scripts. 

What is a social script, you ask? Social scripts are a way to teach kids important social skills by using stories to show how social skills can be used in certain situations. They can come in all different forms and types of media. 

  • Help Them Regulate 

  • This is especially helpful if your child interrupts due to anxiety about social situations. Emotional regulation skills are our ability to recognize and manage our feelings and outward behaviors. Many children need help with learning appropriate tools to regulate their emotions. And you can be there to support them in this goal! 

In some cases, your child’s tendency to interrupt may be due to an underlying issue. Let’s examine what that might be and what you can do to support them if this is the case. 

What if my child’s issues with interrupting are a sign of something deeper going on? 

In some cases, your child may have a greater tendency to interrupt due to underlying issues and conditions that impact their outward behaviors. 

If your child has a diagnosis of ADHD or autism, they likely face challenges with understanding, remembering, and following social rules. 

  • Children with ADHD are often impulsive and hyperactive. Both of these issues can lead to a greater tendency to interrupt. 

  • Autism affects social communication skills and may cause children to misunderstand or fail to read social cues and follow norms for pragmatic language. 

If you’re a parent of a child with autism or ADHD, you may be confused and overwhelmed about which way to turn to get your child the assistance and support they need to access the educational experience they deserve. 

Thankfully, you’re not alone in your quest to help your child reach their fullest potential. 

The Loop is here to support and guide Chicago families and students to success, both in school and in life. 

Our team of expert therapists and learning support specialists are ready to offer your child the in-school assistance they need to thrive while providing you with the knowledge and training you need to support them at home in reaching their therapy and learning goals. 

We partner exclusively with Chicago schools that share our mission to deliver the best in comprehensive, customized educational supports to students in need. 

If your child faces challenges with their education or development of social skills—we can help! We’ll create a customized treatment plan that will involve you in their therapy process. Together, we’ll ensure your child thrives and overcomes any obstacles in their path. 

The Loop supports Chicago students in need with our specialized learning supports and stellar therapy services. We’re the go-to place for top-notch speech, language, behavioral, and occupational therapy, as well as learning remediation, executive function coaching, and educational consultancy and advocacy

Make sure you’re always in the loop by following us on all your fav social channels @TheLoopSLL. Keep our blog page bookmarked on your browser for great content on topics that matter, shoot us an email at, or complete our contact form online to connect with our helpful team.

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