Updated: Sep 30, 2020
Connecting with your children over the phone can feel like an uphill battle, with all the grunts and monosyllables coming back at you!
So here are TWO awesome resources:
1. Watch the video below, and then, 2. Download my Questions for Happy Phone Calls, for those days when the phone is your nemesis! 👇🏻
Hi everyone, this is Shona from speaksweetly.com, and I'm here to answer all of your questions about Mediation, Co-Parenting, and Conflict.
I get asked a lot about how parents can maintain contact with their children while they're with their co-parent, so today I'm going to be talking a little bit about how you can manage phone calls with your children, and how that can be a useful way to build your relationship with them when you're apart.
Obviously I deal with parents in conflict a lot, but this information could really help you improve your communication with your children, no matter what your particular situation is.
So, here we go.
When you talk with your child on the phone, try to really focus on them. You can absolutely still talk about your day, but keep it positive. Use it as an opportunity to show them that you can be resilient about the challenges that you face as well, and don't overload them with your emotional stuff.
Keep questions about the other parent, or step-parent to a minimum. You want to avoid giving your child the feeling that they're your little spy.
Be present. Take a couple of minutes before the phone call to breathe, and think happy thoughts before you call, so that you can really be emotionally available, and not stuck in the ups and downs of your day. That doesn't mean don't share, again, but be age appropriate, and keep it light.
Keep phone calls short and sweet. And generally, the younger the child, the shorter the phone call.
If your co-parent is up for it, and your child is really young, accept some help from them with sitting nearby and prompting your little one. You know, your children love you so much, but it can be difficult for children, especially under five, to remember what happened during the day, or even how they felt ten minutes ago. So having someone close-by to provide a framework for them will help them to be more relaxed.
If your child enjoys the experience of talking with you on the phone, and looks forward to it, this will be good for you in the long term. So don't make it about your co-parent being there, just stay focused on your child, enjoy the experience, and help them to relate to it as a positive thing.
Be consistent and reliable. Call when you say you're going to call, and only schedule calls for times when you know that you'll be able to show up.
Also be understanding. I mean, be totally cool with it if your child is not in the mood for conversation when you call. And be content with a quick hello.
If you're getting a down response from them, you could try gently exploring that by saying:
"hey buddy, you don't seem yourself today, do you want to talk with me about it, or do you just want to have some down time and maybe we can catch up tomorrow?"
and then be totally okay with the answer.
Keep the lines of communication open and trust that they will open up when they're ready.
Be consistent, but also be flexible. Because phone calls can be shortened, or scheduled around their best friend's birthday, or the extra exam revision they feel like they need.
Expect a rainbow of emotions and levels of responsiveness from your child, because that is normal for all of us, and use it as an opportunity to show how tuned in you are to them, and how focused on them you really are.
Here's a little bonus for today:
When I started sending my eldest daughter off to daycare, I came across a list of questions to ask instead of "how was your day", and, even though I don't have that original list anymore, some of the concepts that I learned from that have become a bit of an afternoon ritual for us. So, if you click on my IG bio, or the link below on my website, you can download a little list I made of Gentle Conversation Starters.
Download my Questions for Happy Phone Calls
Maybe you'll find one or two that will become yours, and continue to help you connect with your little one, either over the phone or in person, well into the future.
Okay, that was a lot! I hope you got something out of it.
Leave me comments and questions, and I'll see you next time!