I often receive complaints from parents who cannot talk on the telephone without constant interruptions from their kids.
Other parents experience relative calmness in the home until they get on the phone. At that point, things get crazy and they can never continue a conversation.
Still, other parents find children constantly tugging at them and unwilling to give them a moment of peace while on the phone.
The solution to this dilemma is extraordinarily simple and almost always effective. But first, let’s explore this a bit.
Why Is Telephone Insanity Such A Widespread Problem For Parents?
Children continue to interrupt parents in various ways, for one reason and one reason only. They are trying to get their parent’s attention.
Isn’t this obvious? Of course…you all know that!
And then what happens? They get their parent’s attention in a dozen different ways.
Their parents tell them to “Wait just a minute, honey.”
- Parents tell them, “I need you to wait till Mommy gets off the phone.”
- Parents tell kids, “I asked you to wait till I get off the phone. Could you please leave me alone?”
- Parents also tell children, “You need to go to your room. I am on the phone right now.”
- Parents can even get to the point where they tell their children, “Be quiet and leave me alone. I am on the phone.”
- Parents…in moments of frustration… can also tell their children things that can’t be print here.
In each of these situations, the child is seeking the parent’s attention, and the parents readily give it to the child.
If you understand the fundamental principles behind the Terrific Parenting Strategies, you know that this interrupting behavior is something that I would consider a “weed”. What is a weed? A weed is a negative behavior that you probably don’t want growing in your home. “Weeds” are all of the unwanted behaviors that you are trying to get rid of!
- Sometimes the weed is obvious. You can see it coming a mile away.
- Sometimes this “weed” is disguised in the form of a soft and somewhat nervous voice that’s trying to interrupt mom or dad.
- Other times this “weed” appears as a squabble that occurs between siblings.
- At other times, this “weed” occurs as a loud and obnoxious request from the child, who is clearly screaming out for the parent’s attention.
In all of these situations, however, the negative behavior is something I call a “weed”.
What do we do with weeds? As a first step, we have to starve them – rather than feed them with lots of energy and parent attention. Otherwise, it’s like feeding the weed. If you feed it, it must grow.
It’s the rule. And it’s the principle behind the first steps you must take to create peaceful conversations while on the phone at home with the kids.
Thus it is essential to figure out a plan where you can starve this weed and then begin to feed seeds. This is the plan to do so.
1. Let your kids know that you will no longer respond when they interrupt you on the phone.
The exceptions: blood, water, or fire. You know, emergency stuff. Outside of that, you do not want to know about what they are doing, or the problem they are having with their brother or sister, or whether or not they want a cookie.
Let them know they will have to wait until you get off the phone.
2. Set up a period of training.
By this, I mean that you need to be prepared for a time where your children will “learn” that you stick to your guns on this decision. To do so in a live conversation is very difficult.
Therefore, I suggest that you have several if not a dozen or more “fake conversations” in which you are on the phone talking to a dial tone.
You pretend as if you are having a conversation, and your kids try to interrupt you. In this way, you can much more easily walk away, and not respond to their interruptions.
3. During the training, starve the weeds.
Whenever interruptions occur, disengage and walk away. Give no eye contact. Give no attention. Give no energy to the attempts to interrupt.
4. Be on the outlook for seeds
During and, of course, after the training, look for moments where your children are engaged in healthy, cooperative, and calm behavior that does not require your attention. As you are talking on the phone to the dial tone, walk by and touch them on the shoulder. Give them a head nod, smile, bring them a glass of juice, put a smiley face on their homework. Just engage them and give them a moment of your attention, while they are not interrupting you. In this way, your children learn that you are giving them attention, without their need to interrupt.
Magic in two weeks or less!
The beauty of this simple system is that children learn quickly. They learn quickly because several simple principles are being adhered to.
Have a conversation with your children. Set up five to ten “training calls.”
Remember to walk away from weeds and to feed those seeds. In less than two weeks, you will enjoy a life where your phone calls are rarely interrupted.
Just remember there will be exceptions. You may have a home that requires that you refine your understanding of this strategy, and may require the full program. If you need your kids to respect your time on the phone, then it is essential to master the Telephone In Sanity program. You can order the full program or learn about the details here.
As you get started on this program, keep starving those weeds and walk away from those interruptions.
At the same time, throughout the weeks, months, and years ahead, remember to spend a moment to catch those seeds and to “engage” your kids when they are not interrupting you while you’re on the phone. This will serve to create long-term learning where you can enjoy years of respectful, calm discussions without interruptions while you’re on the phone.