Do your kids struggle with conversations when it comes time for phone calls with their bio-parents? My kiddos did. I'm not talking about situations where they may not want to talk to the parent [perhaps because of bad history]. That is a totally different matter, fit for a soapbox entry sometime. This is about kids and parents who just don't seem to know how to talk together. These are the kids who play pass the phone like a game of hot potato to avoid talking, or who pass the phone off to you after a few "I dunno"s or a couple of grunted responses that range from "ok" to "un-huh."
Here are a few tips that may help things go a bit smoother.
1. Try to establish a schedule for the phone calls if possible. Having a routine for these, like most things, will make it easier for the kids [and the parents] to plan and prepare.
2. Make a Phone Notebook for your child [or for each child]. I found a small memo book style seemed to work best. Use a fresh page after each call. Keep the notebook handy and at dinner time, jot down some of the things the child talks about it from school, scouts, friends, whatever. When it is time for the phone call, the notebook page becomes not a script, but a list of conversational cues.
3. For children too young to read: You write in the notebook as above, but before the phone calls, draw crude pictures or cartoons to go with each topic or idea. Go over the drawings with the child before the phone call. The child can use the pictures to jog their memory and to cue their conversations.
4. Come up with a few basic questions they can ask their parent appropriate to the time of year, the weather, or other safe topics. Use the same pattern of talking with the child to generate the ideas, writing them down, or using drawn cues. This helps them learn that conversations usually include questions and answers from both sides.
5. Stay close by for moral support and conversational hints or prompts, until the kids are old enough or skilled enough to handle the phone calls on their own.
If you are lucky this system will help them develop a pattern of sharing and exchanging information. It will help them learn how to keep a conversational ball bouncing between two people and soon they will be able to chat comfortably on the phone instead of passing it off.
I am a lifelong educator, writer and author, a foster, bio, and adoptive parent, happy mom of five daughters, Grandma to six, Nana to four, and church and theater musician. Oh yes, and all-round optimistic, crazy lady.