I think it’s part of our human nature to be aware of our surroundings. We pick up on the sights, the smells, the atmosphere, and, mostly, the sounds. When we hear someone asking a question, we tend to want to answer it. When we notice someone is lost, we want to help. While these are generally good qualities, we also need to gauge when is the right time to speak and when we need to remain silent.
Our kids tend to struggle in this area. They walk into our room, hear us in the middle of a conversation and immediately want to know what we’re talking about. Truthfully, I’m sure their desire is to merely participate in the conversation and we understand this. However, there is still a valuable lesson to be learned. Not every conversation is meant for them to overhear and they do not need to participate in every conversation we have.
As our children mature, we’re trying to teach them the art of conversation. While we stress the ability to listen well, think before speaking, and speaking in the right manner, we also want to impart the wisdom to know when they have no part in the discussion at hand and should quietly walk away (or at least remain silent until the conversation is over).
As adults, we try to model this for our children. Our children observe our behavior when in larger groups, watching how we choose to speak and decide to refrain. They see us patiently wait for someone else’s discussion to finish before beginning our own or are asked to join in another. We train our children by not allowing them to be a part of every conversation we have, helping them understand this is a private discussion which they are not a part of.
While I’m sure this must be slightly frustrating to our children – I can’t think of a single person who likes being cut out of a conversation – I think this is an important lesson for them. Not everyone appreciates their discussions being interrupted, especially when the exchange was meant to be private. Every dialogue is not necessarily meant to include all those standing around. Until you are asked to be involved or it is obvious all are welcome, it is probably best to remain still.
Time to Chime In: (See, I’m asking you to talk! – laughing) Do your children tend to interrupt adult conversation, attempting to participate? What steps have you taken to help your children determine when it is acceptable to join in?