There is someone speaking
on the Telephone

What is it about telephone calls? Every mum knows that as soon as you start to talk on the telephone the children will begin to demand your attention. You thought they were happy at play, but no, suddenly they want to fight over a toy. You thought you had 15 minutes till lunch, but no, suddenly they are starving hungry! It happens every time.

We need to teach our children that a telephone call is a conversation and just as they respect face-to-face conversation, they need to respect telephone conversations. They need to see the preciousness of other people in this situation – both speaker and listener.

Of course when we have face-to-face conversation it is obvious another person is involved and the children don’t need too much reminding. But… when it comes to the telephone the other person is out of sight – out of sight, out of mind. I have found it important to really work on training the children to remember that a telephone call is a conversation with another person. For this reason I have a prompt chart to remind me to be consistent with consequences. This prompt sheet reminds me that it is an issue of the preciousness of others and I must be consistent.

As a parent, before I give consequences I need to have done two things:

  1. Train the child, so that they know what is right
  2. Have fair, real, and right expectations.

If I am going to be on the phone for a while I ensure that the children have something to do. This may mean I excuse myself from my caller, just for a few moments to set the children up in play, or I may take just a moment to excuse myself from my children and encourage them to read a book while I talk on the phone. This is setting them up to succeed. They know that I am on the phone and they know the behaviour that is expected of them when I am talking to someone.

They are allowed to interrupt me, most times, just like they are allowed to interrupt me in face-to-face conversations. Their interruption needs to be polite and discreet, with patience. I will either shake or nod my head – this means I don’t want to be interrupted or I’ll be with you in a moment. If I say no, and they persist then it is time for a consequence.

The best consequence I have found is to have the children sit on the ground right where I am talking. They have to stay there till the conversation is over. My children know that this could be a long time! When I have finished the phonecall we discuss what they have done wrong and we set it to rights.

Little by little the children come to learn to respect my conversation, and to respect the person on the other end of the phone.

Download your Telephone Conversation Prompt Sheet here.

Live life with your kids!

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