Answering the phone comes naturally to you, but your child needs help learning the rules. Kids may not understand how to politely initiate a conversation with the person on the other end of the line. Your little one may also share too much information with a stranger, potentially putting your family in danger. With a little practice, he is able to take incoming calls without putting himself in danger.
Rules about phone use establish the guidelines for how your child should approach an incoming call. Deciding when your child can and cannot answer the phone is a consideration when setting the rules. For kids old enough to stay home alone, you may decide to have them let all calls go to voicemail when you're not at home. If you do allow your child to answer the phone when you're not around, set rules about what he can tell the person on the other end of the line. Teach your child to say, "My mom can't come to the phone right now. May I take a message?" Remind your child to never give out personal information or let the caller know he is home alone.
Answering a phone that isn't actually connected gives your child a risk-free way to practice his skills. Use an old cell phone or land line phone that isn't hooked up. Help him use a polite voice to greet the caller. To give him a chance to practice different scenarios, play the role of the caller. You can pretend to be someone he knows, such as a relative or friend, and a stranger. If he shares too much info on the pretend calls, you have a teachable moment to remind him of the best way to handle the call in the future.
Once he gets the hang of pretend phone calls, an actual call from a trusted adult allows him to put his skills into practice. Ask a relative or close friend to call at a certain time for the practice call. Letting the adult know that your child is practicing his phone answering skills is helpful. Allow your child to handle the entire phone call. It's tempting to jump in and help out, but stand back and let him take charge. Since you organized the call with someone you trust, you know your child won't be in any real harm, even if he reveals too much information. After the call, you can discuss how it went and talk about what to do differently next time.
The way you answer the phone shows your child how to handle incoming calls. As adults we often rush to answer the phone, forgetting basic manners. Watch your tone and the words you use when answering a call. When talking to someone you don't know, use caution when giving out information. Your child hears what you say on the phone and uses it as a frame of reference the next time he answers.
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