Easy Action Items, Parent-Child Communication

Stop Saying What NOT To Do

Stop Saying What NOT To Do

#tbt that time your kid would not stop interrupting your conversation with another grown-up. So annoying, right? Grown-up conversation becomes a hot commodity when you are around kids all day. So when you tell your child to “Please stop pulling on my pant leg” or to “Stop interrupting”, you really do need them to give you a few more minutes. So why won’t they?

Most likely, they probably do not know what they can do instead. When you say, “Do not do that” she does not know what her other option is. So perhaps they will just sit there for a few moments and then start nagging you again for lack of a different option.

So, instead of saying what not to do, give them some options of what to do. Similar to the situation described in Clean Your Room!, using clear language helps children understand what you mean. Providing them with an action item lets them know what “Stop interrupting” looks like.

Perhaps “Stop interrupting” looks like “Mrs. Knight and I are currently having a conversation. You are interrupting. I know that you want to speak with me. Why don’t you think about your favorite fruits so you can tell me what we should put in the fruit salad for dessert tonight?” or “When I am talking to another adult, that means I am busy. Therefore, if you see me talking to an adult, you need to wait your turn. While you wait, you may play with your Legos.”

I remember my 3rd-grade teacher specifically telling us, “If I am talking with someone else, you may not interrupt. You may stand a few feet away from us and wait patiently. I will see you and know that you would like to speak with me next.”

Here are some other ideas that “Stop interrupting” could look like:

  • Jumping up and down 50 times
  • Finding a small gift for another family member (if you are in a store)
  • Filling out a “Squiggle-on-the-go“, suggested by CoolMomPicks.com
  • Running around the house 10 times
  • Counting how many blue things he can find
  • Eating a snack
  • Going to the playroom and finding an old toy to play with
  • Playing the quiet game (tehehe)
  • Playing with stickers (bring a sticker book when you leave the house)
  • Making up a dance routine
  • Listening to music
  • Reading
  • Waiting patiently while I finish talking and learning to entertain yourself. This is the hardest one to teach, but it is the ultimate goal.

Children need to learn how to come up with the above options on their own and how to wait their turn. Like my aunt used to say (and so did Harvey Danger, a band from my youth), “If you’re bored, then you’re boring.”

(If that is not enough ideas, see a good list from BuzzFeed to use with young children: 16 Creative Ways to Keep Your Kid from Having a Meltdown While You Shop.)