When J was little… between 1-3 years old, he would play with his Legos… draw on his giant sketch pad with his crayons… sing and dance – oh, so happily on his own. The boy would completely immerse himself into whatever he was doing… really intense kid. 😆
But as soon as he sees me so much as GLANCE towards the direction of a telephone… that intensity IMMEDIATELY fizzles out.
Suddenly, it becomes absolutely imperative that he checks in with me every 4.2 breaths.
Look, mommy! I’m holding blocks!
And mommy… MOMMY look! I have blocks!
Mommy, do you like my blocks?
Mommy I farted! (laughing hysterically as he fixes his eyes on me)
*sighing* I’m hungry.
Mommy listen to me spell my name!
Look, mommy! I’m shaking my bon bon!
What’s your name, mommy?
Mommy, what-chu talkin about?
Mommy I think Mikko and Zalentine (Valentine) needs to poo poo!
Mommy who you talking to?
Mommy? You need to pee pee?
Mommy do you want to see my blocks?
I thought it was only my precious little baby bum who suddenly transformed into a neglected child hungry for attention… but after speaking to my mommy friends with kids J’s age, I was surprised to find that my child was not necessary unique in this department!
Ohhh emmm geee…
Us moms concluded: CONSPIRACY!!!
Close… but not exactly. After some research, I realized that this behavior is normal during this stage of early childhood development. 🙂
You see, up until the age of 5 or 6, children assume the world and everything and everyone in it exist purely for their benefit. As far as they’re concerned, everyone else don’t have their own independent purpose, thoughts, feelings, ideas, etc. Children at this age also depend on their primary caregivers (parents, grandparents, etc.) for feedback to let them know if they were being “good” or “bad” because they’re learning to be their own human.
On top of that, the child’s short-term memory is still being developed, so they feel a very real need to say what’s on their mind before they forget.
While this may be a natural course of development for the itty bitty which made trying to hold a semi-coherent conversation with my friends a bit of a challenge… this was certainly not acceptable while I was on calls with coaching clients. So here’s what I did to help my child chill out while I was on the phone… replying to emails… completing something before a deadline 😆
- Phone-time activities box: He had a box filled with Legos, dinosaurs, cars, crayons & paper, etc. specifically for when I’m on the phone, that he could pull out and setup next to me if he wanted to hang out. The rule was… he has to give me time to focus on my call, otherwise, I won’t have money to do any grocery shopping. 😆
- Force-field time: I explained to my child that until the alarm/timer starts beeping, we are to remain in our individual forcefields. We’re usually in the same room, but the rule was, J stays in his forcefield on his side of the room, focusing on creating whatever his sweet little heart desires… and I stay in mine to take calls/finish work. When the alarm goes off (between 30-60 mins), we take a break and share what we’ve accomplished.
- The little assistant: Sometimes, I let J “answer” the phone for me. I pick up the phone when it rings and give the caller a heads up that J will answer the phone. I then hand the phone to my little assistant and he says, “Hello, this is Joshua. Who is this please? [Caller tells him their name] Ok, here’s my mommy.” Of course, we had to rehearse his very important assistant script before actually pulling it off, but it made him feel so involved, he’d go off on his own to do “important Joshua work” after handing the phone to me. 😆
Our littles will eventually develop independence and grow into their own amazing person with their own thoughts and emotions about themselves and everything around them… their short-term memory will improve… and the kid will become less impulsive. They’ll begin to understand that other people are their own separate person too, with their own thoughts and feelings… aaand they’ll be able to hold onto their thoughts while waiting for their turn to share. 🙂
It’s always fun to talk to new parents about this phone-interrupt stage, but I always found the psychology behind this so incredibly fascinating.
P.S. Lemme know what you think!
Carmen is a mom, life strategist, religion teacher, best selling author, advice columnist, foodie wannabe, and advocate for victims of narcissistic abuse. She is currently living la vida loca in Vegas with her not-so-little human… prepping him for med school while pseudo-adulting, Tahitian dancing, and exploring the delicious world of bubble tea *woo!*