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An ‘Interruption Power’ Success Story Video

Most of us have been taught that, “It is not polite to interrupt!” And we might say to our kids, “Don’t interrupt.” But this one-size-fits-all rule has flaws.

For example, have you ever seen children or teens squirm at a social gathering from well-meaning but intrusive questions about their school or rude unasked-for and sometimes really poor advice about their lives? In fact, have you ever felt trapped yourself by an unnecessary and unpleasant conversation with well-meaning family or friends?

When we automatically feel that we mustn’t interrupt, the result is that we often wait too long before taking charge of what is supposed to be pleasant conversation with people whom we would like to enjoy being with instead of wanting to avoid.

At Kidpower, one of the skills we teach to adults and children alike is when and how to interrupt. The key is to interrupt politely with a kind voice, instead of an annoyed one, and to redirect the conversation into something else. You can do this yourself and practice with your kids how to do the same.

By giving kids permission and ways to interrupt to deal with unpleasant conversations directed at them personally, we empower them to redirect these conversations into more pleasant topics. By teaching them how to interrupt adult conversations when they are having a problem and need help, we teach them that their well being is a bigger priority than our conversation.

For example, if you are being grilled about your weight, you can interrupt cheerfully by saying, “Excuse me! I don’t want to talk about that right now. I really want to hear about your vacation.” Suppose the person gets annoyed and says, “I’m just trying to be helpful.” You can interrupt again and say, “Thank you for your concern, and I’d rather talk about your trip.”

Suppose the subject is another telling of an embarrassing and exaggerated story from your childhood that you really don’t want to hear again. Instead of waiting and hating, you can interrupt sweetly, “Excuse me, I remember that differently. Let’s talk about something else.”

Suppose the person is really invested in the story and says, “You’re oversensitive!” Or, “Can’t you take a joke?” You might say, “I know you like telling this story. However I don’t enjoy it. Let’s talk about things that we can both enjoy.”

Suppose people are getting heated about politics in a way that is getting unpleasant. You can interrupt and say, “Let’s all just agree to disagree. We don’t need to convince each other to care about each other. Let’s go play a game instead.”

If all else fails and people are becoming upset, you can also interrupt by leaving calmly in a friendly way, saying,” I need a break. Let’s talk later.”

Suppose you are with an elderly family member whom is telling you a story about their own childhood or work career for the 10,000th time without realizing it. For a while, if you care about this person, you might just listen to the music of the sound of their voice without listening to the content. You can interrupt and redirect by saying, “Excuse me! I don’t want to forget to show you the garden here. It’s beautiful.” Or, you can interrupt and leave by saying enthusiastically, “Excuse me, It’s been great talking with you! I promised Aunt Mable to help her with the kids! ”

By using our Interruption Power, we can stop suffering through unnecessary unpleasant conversations in ways that will help us – and our kids – to feel empowered to take charge rather than feeling helpless. The result is having less stress, fewer problems, and more fun!

Here are some free resources that thousands of people of many different cultures from around the world have found to be useful during the holidays and throughout the year:


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Published: December 21, 2018   |   Last Updated: December 21, 2018

Kidpower Founder and Executive Irene van der Zande is a master at teaching safety through stories and practices and at inspiring others to do the same. Her child protection and personal safety expertise has been featured by USA Today, CNN, Today Moms, the LA Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Publications include: cartoon-illustrated Kidpower Safety Comics and Kidpower Teaching Books curriculum; Bullying: What Adults Need to Know and Do to Keep Kids Safe; the Relationship Safety Skills Handbook for Teens and Adults; Earliest Teachable Moment: Personal Safety for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers; The Kidpower Book for Caring Adults: Personal Safety, Self-Protection, Confidence, and Advocacy for Young People, and the Amazon Best Seller Doing Right by Our Kids: Protecting Child Safety at All Levels.