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How to teach kids to stop interrupting when you are on the phone


There are many times when I need to call a doctor’s office or call a client for work and I need the kid’s to give me un-interrupted time.   I have found two good solutions to this common problem of kids interrupting us while we are on the phone.

First, let me tell you what doesn’t work:
– Giving sweets to keep them quiet (yes, I have done this and yes, it backfires!  They were “trained” to expect a lollipop every time I get on the phone when I reward their poor behavior with a good reward.).  Think Pavlov & his dog… that’s how I felt with the kids!

– Telling them be quiet.  Yep, it just doesn’t work either and you are interrupting the person on the other end by stopping them to tell the kids to be quiet.

What does work:
– Taking them into their rooms.  My friend, Kristy, does this.   When her three kids disrupt her on the phone, she takes them into their room and they stay in there until she is done.   She just takes their hand and leads them to their room.  It was hard for her at first, but now the kids know what she is doing (and they rarely interrupt her… at least not when she is talking to me).

– Giving them a minute of time out for each interruption.   I do this now, because it was happening too much!   Even our 6 year old was starting to interrupt me (and he knows better).    So, now I just don’t even have to tell them, but when I get off, I tell them how many minutes they got.  The first few times I kept a tally sheet on the counter and showed them when I got off.  They were both surprised, but they knew the rule.  The next time, I could keep a running tally in my head because they were getting better & the number was smaller.

Before I started this, I explained 2 things:
1- Emergencies don’t count and you can interrupt me for that (and we went through our huge list.   “Mom, what if I throw up? What if I’m bleeding?  What If I fall, get a splinter, get it out, can’t find a bandaid and then start bleeding?”  Yes- every possible scenario was tossed out at me!

2- If you need me and its not an emergency, you can either write it down (for our older son) or quietly show me (for our younger kids).

teach your kids

I would love to know what you do at your house… leave your tips in the comments or on my Facebook page post.

Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. Love this!
    My 5 and 4 year olds have been really going nuts when I’m on the phone lately. I think they believe it’s become a game.
    I talk to them afterwards, but really need to implement something for while I’m on the phone. Love the timeout idea and the go to the room one…. May need to try both and see what works here!

    1. This was my house a month ago & I have been using these really consistently & they are working! I would def. give them a shot. It should work. 🙂 Let me know!! (good luck!) 😉

  2. I just love this! My kids do pretty good while I’m on the phone, but on occasion they interrupt me, so I am definitely going to use these tips for next time!

    Bugs and Beans