Whenever I am on the phone my 4 year old daughter goes to extreme lengths, including screaming and throwing things at me to get my attention . I have to excuse myself several times during the call to deal with her! What can I do?
—Frustrated and Embarrassed.
Dear Frustrated and Embarrassed,
We can all relate to your issue! Now lets see what we can do to set up your child and you for success. Firstly, don’t be a slave to the phone, let the machine pick up and only answer when your child is occupied. I find that the times we are outside after a snack or meal and everyone is busy doing something I can get in a few calls. You might even consider setting up “phone times”, specific times of the day when you are most likely able to receive or place calls and let friends and family know the schedule. Set your child up with a video, or CD and ear phones, or some engrossing activity and make or return just a few calls, making them short in duration. At neutral times practice with your child what to do when you are on the phone, what activities your child can get to occupy herself and how the two of you can make contact in a way that works for both of you. I use the hand on the forearm technique. Whenever a child wishes to speak with me they place their hand on my forearm and wait quietly. I make eye contact and either place my hand over theirs or pat their hand until I am available. I do not interrupt my call or conversation unless the situation is truly dire. You might even switch roles and have your child pretend to be on the phone, you distract her and let her teach you how to handle the interruption. If you really must make business phone calls schedule them for nap, after bed time or when another adult is available to interact with your child and make those calls from a different room. When you have exhausted all your resources have a bag with special activities your child is sure to enjoy THAT ONLY COMES OUT FOR PHONE CALLS!