Whether you are on the phone or busy with important work it can be highly frustrating when you have children interrupting you. Children are so focused on their own needs they don’t realise you have needs too. Many children can occupy themselves for 10 to 30 minutes and it is reasonable to expect a young child not to interrupt you during a short telephone call. However it is unreasonable to expect a child not to interrupt you if your conversation goes on for an hour or more.
In this next blog from the Parenting Team we give some suggestions to help teach your child to occupy themselves when you are on a call and to get your attention in an acceptable way.
How to help prevent children interrupting
Teach your children how to determine if something warrants an interruption, as they may have a hard time deciphering when interruptions are justified. Discuss examples of when it’s okay to interrupt, such as when someone is at the door, or if they need assistance going to the toilet.
Explain to your child the times when you are busy doing something important, you cannot be interrupted and inform them how long you are going to be.
Put together a box of quiet activities that can only be used when you are on the phone or working. Occasionally refill it with new things or rotate the contents. Be firm about putting them away when you are done, this way your child will be looking forward to your next conversation, which will be interruption free!
Explain the rules
Before you make a phone call or have important work, let your child know what to expect. “I’m going to make a phone call. I’ll be a while, so let’s get your toy box ready to use while I’m on the phone.”
Teach your child how to wait for a pause in the conversation and to say, “Excuse me.” When she remembers to do this, respond positively. If the interruption is about something that should wait, politely inform your child of this.
Ideally rules should tell a child what they should be doing, rather than what not to do, e.g.
- Play quietly until I’m finished
- If you need to speak to me say ‘excuse me’ or ‘help’ and wait
Praise and reward desired behaviour
Catching your child doing the right thing can be the best reward. Praise your child for using good manners, for remembering to say “excuse me,” and for interrupting only for a valid reason.
You may like to reward your child for following the rules to reinforce the desired behaviour. Rewards could be a favourite snack or a special activity together when you are free.
Or you could use a behaviour chart. For guidance on how to use a behaviour chart please visit our blog here!
You may want to role play with your child the steps to take when you are busy with important work, to ensure they have understood and to reinforce the positive behaviour with praise for their co-operation and successes.
For more support and advice with you parenting, why not book onto one of our parenting programmes here!
Let us know how you have been successful in preventing your children interrupting your phone calls in the comments below!