I remember when I didn’t finish a sentence or complete a thought for years. I didn’t go to the bathroom alone or flush for myself for more years. I could, however, easily recite the lyrics to the song from The Wizard of Oz, “If I only had a brain…”.

I loved being a mother when the kids were little, but something had to give when it came to communicating adult to adult. We learned about and instilled “the interrupt rule”, and it was a sanity saver. A simple concept that was easy to explain and enforce with children. When I was talking to another adult, the child was instructed to not interrupt our conversation verbally. Instead, they were to stand quietly and still beside me and gently place their hand on my arm or leg, indicating they needed to speak to me. I usually acknowledged them with my eyes or even spoke that I would be with them soon. Once I could give them my attention I thanked them for being patient and listened to their need.

As with everything else in life “the interrupt rule” requires practice and wasn’t always a perfect solution. Sometimes the gentle hand turned into more of a push or a pat or a slap if the wait was too long. Sometimes there were multiple hands pressing at the same time. But the concept definitely taught self-control for the little ones and allowed me to enjoy more uninterrupted conversations and somewhat of a return to sanity.

I discovered the majority of the time kids just need clear, simple direction, along with respect, to be manageable and enjoyable. Experience has shown children will do anything for you if you respect them and give appropriate parameters.

Another example was the challenge of keeping them safe while shopping. Two practices helped keep our blessings alive. When in a grocery store they were taught to keep a hand on the shopping cart at all times. That made it a little harder to grab something or to run off. Funny side note: my daughter, an adult, says she STILL puts her hand on the cart when shopping with friends. She says it’s weird, but I think it’s funny. Any time we were in a parking lot and one of the (younger) children were outside the car they were instructed to put their hand on the car while we were loading/unloading. I would simply say, “touch the car”, and they knew what to do and why.

Happy parenting…it’s a great adventure!

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