Child Behaviour: Making an Uninterrupted Phone Call with Kids

How to work from home with children


You child could be sitting there quite happily, playing away, when ring ring there goes the phone. The child looks up , its competitor – the phone has got mum’s attention.

“Yes, I know I was quite happily doing my own things a minute ago but now that you are on the phone, I really need your full attention!”

“Look at me mum, look what I can do, let me tug your leg, let me keep calling you, please don’t give attention to that thing in your hand, look I’m here, I’m much more interesting than the thing you are holding.”

This is the crux, the phone is your child’s competitor, they know your attention is not focused on them and they will do pretty much anything to get you off it.

How to work from home with children involves preparation

Now, I’m not promising immediate miracles that you’ll be able to chat away on the phone for longer than 5 minutes but 5 minutes is better than nothing. The only tips I suggest for a long phonecall is wait until the kids are not home, when they are in bed or make sure there is another adult around to keep an eye on the kids and go into a differnet room and shut the door.

To make a phone call in peace is an acquired learning skill for you and your child & involves preparation.

Role playing with a child and a toy phone, show them what to do. Pretend the phone rings and put your finger to your lips.

Let your toddler hear someone on the phone speak to them, so they understand that you have to focus on listening to the person talking on the other side.

Prepare ahead if you are going to make a phone call, spend time on activity with the child, set them all up and say Mum is going to make a call, you carry on and I’ll be back to help you finish, or can you finish this on your own and surprise mummy. We all know children love to surprise mummy.

Puzzles, threading, a movie, drawing any activity that will keep your child busy for 5 minutes.

Prepare a  box, with 1 or 2 activities that the child does when you are on the phone, and it can actually become an exciting novelty for them.   With older kids start a competition box, download kids colouring competitions & collect coloring competitions at the shop. When you are on the phone they could be on their way to a winning a prize.

Sneaking off to make a phone call with out telling the children doesn’t work they have inbuilt phone radar, so its best to tell them and prepare.

How to work from home with children, takes practice

It does take practice but it can be done preparation is the key and if you get a call and haven’t prepared ask whether they could call you back in a few minutes while you set your child up.

Also show your child that every call doesn’t have to be answered, we never answer the phone at dinner time- that’s our family time -let it go to voicemail or the answering machine.

If you start this early on, you’ll find it quite amazing I can make about a 10 minute call without interruptions from my kids, but only when I say Mummy is going to make a phone call or answer this call. If they don’t realise I’m on the phone, even with them looking directly at me and seeing the phone help against my ear and me talking to the caller. It’s like I’m holding an invisible phone.

When you do get 5 minutes of no interruptions, thank the child and give them now 5 minutes of your time- to them 5 minutes of your time can feel so much longer.

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Nathalie Brown

Child Behaviour Consultant at Easy Peasy Kids
Child Behaviourist and researcher. Creator of "Less tantrums. More smiles". I look at the bigger picture and think outside the box when working with children and their behaviour. Their world is different. As adults we sometimes forget this. Happiness Creator in my spare time. Eater of chocolate and cake.

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  1. Great post, Nathalie. Three-year-old Ella is OK, as long as she knows the call is coming and we can talk about it in the lead up to it happening. Otherwise it’s a challenge. Something I definitely need to work on. 🙂

  2. Thanks for the tips. I realized that kids are not to be scolded when they try to get your attention when you are on the phone. They are not being bossy or being mean to mommy, they are just calling mommy’s attention. I did a little experiment and it proved helpful. Instead of giving my toddler something to eat while I send emails, I used a shoe box and used the flap as a make-believe keyboard and gave it to my little girl so she can be sending emails to her friends too. Of course, it will only last as soon as I have composed the email and sent it. But then again, that was just the time I needed to focus anyway. =)

  3. Your Mr 7 cracks me up Nathalie! My four year old is fine with me making calls, the 2.5 year old not so much. Thanks for the tips. I usually wait until he’s having a nap to make all my calls!

    • Mr 7 crack me up too 🙂 Not sure what he’s doing with my credential s as a mother though 😉 Naps and sleep are the best times for making calls or having a glass of red xx

  4. I generally take the persons number and call them when my boys are in bed or otherwise engaged. My children do understand that the call is important and will not interrupt because they know it is rude. It has taken a while to get them to this stage though.

  5. Laurel Benzing says

    The game invloving a phone tone soulnds like a fantastic idea to try to learn the children how to leave you have a serious conversation on the phone without yell at them or punish them accusing them that they are behaving strangely everytime the phone at home rings. I will def try this parctice and share the results.

  6. Hi Nathalie,
    It’s a really valid point…I try to separate phone calls and kids. I feel the phone impinges on me being with them, and if they are there when I’m on the phone, it’s hard to follow the conversation. I prefer leaving phone-calling until the end of the day, if possible. Otherwise, I just keep it brief.
    I feel the same about the Internet, and anything to do with technology. I don’t really like my daughter watching a lot of TV as it doesn’t have a great effect on her, so why should I be tootling away on the computer?

    Thanks for your insight!

  7. Would you believe I have an 11 year old who won’t stop interrupting me on the phone? My other (younger) children don’t. But this darling of mine still does it, no matter what we’ve tried over the years. It I lock myself in the bedroom and she pounds on the door. We don’t even have a home phone, just a mobile…so it hardly ever rings, but she won’t let me have 5 minutes to make or take a call.
    Sorry, I sound like Im whinging….just at a loss.

    • Hi Leonie, I would try letting her call a friend on the mobile and demonstrate how you don’t interrupt, say why don’t you call a friend and have a chat for 10 minutes, I will respect and not interrupt you. Good luck Nx

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