Dear Dr. Bill,
My 9-year-old son seems to need to talk to me constantly even when he sees I’m busy. At times I get so frustrated and annoyed because I feel at his age he should know not to bother adults when he sees they are working on a project or chore. Do you have any advice for me?
I’m sure it’s frustrating to have your son bombarding you with chatter when you’re trying to get things accomplished. But I’d encourage you to ask yourself a hard question: are you providing him with all the time and attention he truly needs?
Boys crave time with their dads, and some of us get so caught up with our work and hobbies that we don’t give our sons our undivided attention.
His constant talking could be a sign that he desperately wants a relationship with you and that you’re not providing him with the time that he truly needs.
Perhaps it’s time to re-examine your priorities and cut back on some of the things that you believe are important. Begin to focus on what’s truly significant…your relationship with your son.
On the other hand, if you are giving him plenty of your time and attention, he’s going to need to learn to be more independent. At 9, he should be able to engage in self-directed activities, whether that’s playing by himself, reading for pleasure, engaging in hobbies, or spending time with friends.
Try rewarding him for playing or reading independently. The reward can be one-on-one time with you. Tell him you’re going to set the kitchen timer for 30 minutes, and during that time, he will need to find something interesting to do on his own.
Explain that he won’t be able to talk to you during that time, as you’ll need to concentrate on what you’re doing. Let him know if he is able to play independently until timer rings, the two of you will be able to spend 30 minutes playing a board game together, going for a walk, or playing basketball.
Thanks for writing Mike. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, just click the “Questions” link on the Culture Connection page.