The National Parenting Center

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Interrupting You On The Telephone

Some children drop whatever they’re doing as soon as their parent picks up the telephone. Avoid part of this problem by making most of your calls during naptime or after bedtime. However, that won’t help you with incoming calls. Try this approach.

• First, have a rule,”Don’t interrupt me while I’m on the telephone” and give a reason, “Because I can’t hear what the other person is saying.” But keep your calls to a reasonable length (like five or ten minutes).

• Second, tell your child what you want her to do. “I need you to be quiet when I’m on the phone. You can play or look at books.”

• Third, to help redirect your child’s attention, keep some special toys near the phone.

• Fourth, if your child continues to interrupt you, tell your friend that you’ll call her right back, then take your child to “time-out.” Tell her that if she leaves “time-out” while you’re on the phone, there will be no TV for the rest of that day.

• Fifth, if your child waits politely while you’re on the phone, be sure to praise her afterwards and do something of her choosing.

In summary, planning in advance what your child will do while you’re on the phone will also help her wait her turn in other situations.

During Dr. Schmitt’s 20 years as a medical practitioner and researcher, he has published over 100 articles or chapters on pediatric health care, and has been awarded the distinguished C. Anderson Aldrich Award by the American Academy of Pediatrics for outstanding contributions to the field of child development. Schmitt has also authored five books including Your Child’s Health, which won Child Magazine’s first Hall of Fame Award in 1991. Schmitt is also a professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and on staff at The Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado.


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