I’m now into educating my youngest one to let me talk to people in peace. She always interrupts me and it’s annoying, as you might understand.
One of my fears of dating somebody new is that when they’ll be around me and my little one, they might be horrified at how I let her boss me around, interrupt me and make me do things at any time. My girl is not that bad, maybe, but I’m afraid of this.
Children are usually jealous of their mother giving attention to other people, especially when they see some flirtation going on, but I’m afraid that single children from single moms suffer more of this. It’s really a LOT of attachment between us, being just us most of the time, so it can be quite intense.
It took me maybe much longer than it should have, but I’m training her to let me talk to people without being interrupted. Just like when I weaned her from breastfeeding, I was inspired by a new guy, making her not interrupt me was inspired by the mountain guy. But to be honest, being a single mom still is pretty nice…
This may sound silly, but the truth is that the desire to date makes me be a better parent, I focus more on the limits I have to give. Being with the guy, in the end, is practically irrelevant, the lessons are too great to keep putting them back.
I asked a mom-friend how to do it, since her 5-year old is so well educated in this matter and as she told me how she worked on it with her little one, so we created an action plan for me:
1- Talk about the new rules. I went like this: ¨Darling, I want to talk to you about something. I don’t want to be interrupted when I’m talking to other people anymore. Remember when I was talking to our neighbor and you kept coming in and screaming? (she nodded) Well, I don’t want that anymore. I want you to let me speak to people.
Remember when I was talking to that new friend (the mountain guy) and you kept asking me to go outside? (she nodded again) Well, I don’t want that to happen again. If it happens, know that I won’t talk to you until I’m finished and if you need to talk to me at that very minute, you have to say excuse and wait for a break in my conversation¨. I recall the new rule every now and then.
2- When she tries to interrupt me, tell her to wait and I keep talking to the other person and ignore her. This takes a lot of concentration not to get mad (very important not to get mad and it takes practice). And the good hint my friend gave me here is to tell the person I’m talking to something like: ¨I’m sorry you have to go through this, but I’m teaching her to not interrupt me, so please, bear with me¨.
Telling the other person about what´s going on is key here since I tend to try to keep things quiet (meaning give in to my girl) not to disturb people (although by letting our conversation be interrupted, I’m disturbing). And this keeps away my fear of being judged too, in fact, it makes me proud of what I’m doing, instead of uncertain of what to do to make her calm down. It could actually be a turn on to a guy.
3- Practice a lot with people I’m close to. I started with my neighbor where we lived before and my friend who gave me all the tips. This means: practice with people you have support from.
4- When in public, hold on firmly to the ignoring even if she’s screaming, for a good minute and then intentionally finish my conversation and ask her calmly: ¨Now I can talk to you, what did you want?¨ My friend says it will take little for this to stick. It´s actually hard to know what to do when she screams in public, but luckily it hadn’t happened in a while.
5- Avoid the temptation of explaining to her why she can’t do that, while she is doing it and end up giving her the attention anyway. Show her the lesson with the action and forget about wording things like: ¨Look sweetie, I’m talking here, you can’t do this…¨ (that’s what I was doing before and it obviously doesn’t work). Keep doing these steps until they work, it doesn’t seem to be any other way.
As I started it a few weeks back, my little darling is a little bit better, she even says ¨Excuse me¨ (sometimes) before starting to pull me away and talk non stop… I tell her I liked how she said ¨Excuse me¨, but she still has to wait.
She is also training ME not to interrupt her when she is playing. I’m already good at waiting for her, but she is emphasizing how I need to wait for her to finish her conversations with her imaginary friends and she tells me to use ¨Excuse me¨ before jumping into her talks. Of course, I get a bit impatient, but I realize this is a great opportunity to model what I want from her and I’m following the rules myself.
Ok, modeling must be the first step. I do that already, but unfortunately for my permissive patterns, I have to take more action than just modeling, therefore the 5 steps. I guess it all comes down to being very patient too, until she learns (or simply matures).
Being respected is obviously a benefit for me but it’s also about my girl and her need to learn to respect other’s conversations. I hope that if you have a little one, you are far ahead of me on this lesson (if you are, you might have other hints to add in the comments), and if not, maybe you can follow these 5 steps above and see what happens.