ASK MOM: Daughter cuts people off, dad frustrated by itSep 29, 2023 02:19AM ● By Mary Follin & Erika Guerrero, illustrated by Suzanne Johnson
Drawing by Suzanne Johnson
THE PROBLEM: My 13 yo daughter is constantly interrupting people. It drives me crazy, I guess because one of those ‘people’ is so often me! She barely lets anyone finish a sentence before adding her 2 cents. It’s like when someone starts talking, it gives her an idea about something, and she can’t help blurting it out. I’ve told her a million times how rude it is (and she gets that), but it’s a habit that seems impossible to break, mostly because she doesn’t even try. Any suggestions?
MARY SAYS: While you’re wise to address this, what you’re most likely observing in your daughter is the exuberance that comes with being a newbie teen. Upon entering these tender years, kids are full of ideas and can’t wait to share them. What teenagers often need is a gentle reminder that other people have ideas, too.
But as you say, ‘reminders’ aren’t working with your daughter, so perhaps it’s time to go deeper.
Let’s start with you first. Why are you so triggered by your daughter’s behavior? Was there a time in your life when someone repeatedly shut you down? Are you embarrassed that others may think you haven’t raised your daughter right? This is not a harsh judgement of you—most people don’t appreciate being drowned out by somebody else—but before you can broach the subject with your daughter, it may be a good idea to cleanse your own palate so you can be more objective—and less annoyed—when you talk to her about it.
Because despite correcting her a ‘million times,’ she’s still doing it. The first thing you’ll want to do is sit down and talk to her about it in a more adult manner rather than telling her repeatedly how rude she is.
Let her know how important it is to other people that she cares enough to pay close attention. Ask her to think of a time a friend helped her feel better about something, simply by listening. How often has she has returned the favor? Can she recall a time when she was sharing something meaningful, only to be cut off by someone who clearly wasn’t interested?
Once your daughter understands the impact of her habit on others, she may be more motivated to hang onto her own thoughts while someone else is sharing theirs.
But habits are hard to break, so be sure to give her a tool to use when she’s tempted to jump right in. As soon as she feels the urge, suggest she interrupt with a question instead. This will help her satisfy her need to talk while keeping the focus on the person who has the floor.
While few teenagers are motivated by scoldings, most of them care a LOT about relationships and how to have better ones. If you can redirect your daughter’s attention to building better relationships through listening, you may find she’s able to control her impulses and learn how to be a much better friend.
ERIKA SAYS: Eeekk! This is a tough issue, partly because your daughter is already 13, which means she’s gone a few years without any redirection. Although they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, I believe that with consistency, there’s hope for your situation. You mentioned your daughter knows it’s rude to interrupt, but perhaps she’s having trouble with impulse control?
Children interrupt for many reasons, such as not being able to wait patiently for their turn, not wanting to forget what they have to say, or displaying symptoms of ADHD and neurodiversity. Other than explaining to your daughter that her behavior is rude, have you asked her why she does it? Although it seems like she isn’t trying to self-correct, it’s possible she’s trying her best and can’t help herself.
By understanding why your daughter is a chronic interrupter, you can better decide how to approach it. For example, you can suggest she write down her thoughts so she doesn’t forget them. Or simply encourage her to wait patiently until others are finished. And of course, every time she interrupts, ask her to wait until you’re finished.
Every. Single. Time.
It won’t be easy at first, but as is the case with any longstanding habit, consistency is the key to change!
ASK MOM offers parents two perspectives on today’s child-rearing issues—one from a mom with grown children (Mary), the other from a mom raising a small child (Erika). If you’re looking for creative solutions, or your mom isn’t around to ask, drop in!
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Erika Guerrero is a freelance hair and makeup artist, Erika K. Beauty, single-mama to one amazing boy, and author of She’s Not Shaken, a blog offering hope and encouragement to women in all walks of life.