Dear Naomi, Are you able to offer some advice on what to do when a child (6 y.o.) constantly interrupts? As soon as I begin talking to my husband, she interrupts. I have tried saying, "after I listen to your dad, I will listen to you", but she just keeps going and gets louder. There is no time in the day when she is not with us (we get up and go to bed at the same time - yes, at 6 y.o. she sleeps only 8 hours!), she refuses to stay with a babysitter or have older children over so we can talk. I need to talk to my husband sometimes and I'm out of ideas!


Dear Parent,

The child always has a valid reason for what she does. If she interrupts, she cannot help it. I would suggest that you first inquire with yourself about the reasons she cannot tolerate your conversation with your husband. Is she getting enough attention? Is she feeling left out because you talk while she is with you? Does she see Dad as a threat to relating to you or does she need more time with him? Is she used to always being the center of attention?

I cannot know if any of these are valid for your daughter or if she is taking care of other needs. I can assure you that she has a valid reason (not consciously), and that as soon as you know what it is and take care of it, you will find the solution. I cannot tell you how to handle every one of these possibilities but here are two helpful directions you can try:

You say she won't play with another child or adult. I wonder if this is because she is afraid to lose you as soon as she is with another person. Make sure to introduce her to social experiences that include you and/or your husband. Her inability to be with others will pass with happy experiences in which she does not lose you.

One of the main reasons a child cannot tolerate your talk with your husband is because she is sitting there in your company, feeling left out. Sitting together and excluding your child from conversation is not respectful or possible. She is right to interrupt you. As long as the three of you are together, her need to be included must be met.

Your daughter can enjoy time by herself while you talk if she is content and feeling connected by love. First satisfy your child's need for connection with you and with her father. After she is fully satisfied and has enough of both of you, set her up with an activity of her choice, planned in advance: "After I read to you you, Dad will play with you outside. Then we will eat and you will tell us about your day." Make clear plans and let her decide how to fill her time, "After we read, play, eat and listen to you, Mommy and Daddy will have their talking time. What would you like to do while we talk?"

Your daughter may respond by letting you know why she can't stand when you two talk; listen carefully. Or, she may be happy to paint, listen to a story or music CD, do a puzzle, take a bath, eat a desert she loves etc. Set her up with her activities, and if she still interrupts, be willing to respond to her and then go back to your conversation once she is busy again. Start with short conversations, and don't try to milk more time than she can handle. If she enjoys herself, she will do it again. Young children do not have the capacity to give up their needs for the sake of others. Be generous. 

Regardless of the solution you find, never expect to be able to connect with your husband while your child is sitting there wanting your company. Always satisfy the need first and then provide an activity that will engage her happily on her own or with another. 

If your daughter is with you and your husband together all day every day, she is lucky. However, it would help her a lot to include other people in your life on a regular basis.

Warmly,  Naomi Aldort,