Grandparents, it has been said, are people who take delight in hearing babies breathing into the phone. That may be true, but it's even more fun to talk to grandchildren when they can answer. These telephone tips will help long-distance grandparents connect with their grandchildren, no matter what age they are.
1. Talking to Babies
Most babies are intrigued by phones, probably because adults spend so much time using them. Before babies are a year old, they respond to voices that they hear on the phone. Their eyes widen, and they often pull away and look at the phone as if trying to figure out where Grandma's voice is coming from. Typically they snuggle back up to the phone, ready for another listen. At this stage, you'll want to use simple words and short sentences. Begin by identifying yourself with whatever grandparent name you have chosen. Wait for a response. Babies often mimic the conversational patterns of adults even if they don't use words. Keep conversations short, and develop a pattern of using some of the same phrases and sentences. Babies love repetition.
2. Telephone Tips for Toddlers
Toddlers are busy! At this stage, they may be interested in talking to grandparents, or they may be involved in their own pursuits. It may help if you call at a specific time of day, perhaps as their day is winding down. If your grandchild is uninterested in talking, don't push it. Continue to identify yourself by using some of the same phrases and sentences that you used earlier, but branch out. Ask very specific questions, as toddlers typically don't respond well to general inquiries. "Are you playing with your blocks?" is better than "What are you doing?" Toddlers also may have difficulty remembering what they did earlier in the day. Focus on what's going on right now. If the family has pets, questions about pets are often well-received.
3. Tips for School-Age Children
4. Talking to Tweens
5. Texting Teens
If you have teenage grandchildren, good luck getting to talk to them! They'd rather be texting. That means that grandparents should learn to text, too. You don't have to use texting shortcuts or abbreviations. If your grandchildren use ones that you don't know, just ask them to explain. They'll love teaching grown-ups something. You can have actual phone conversations with teenage grandchildren, but set it up ahead of time--by text, of course! Once again, keeping up with their schedules and knowing their friends will help you ask relevant questions. If they have conflicts with their parents, it's usually a bad idea to side with them against their parents. Just listen and try to remain neutral.
6. Phone Tips for Young Adults
Wow! Your grandchildren are grown and out on their own--sort of. In a way, you've come full circle. Just as you worked around their feeding and sleeping schedules when they were infants, now you must be respectful of their schedules and other demands on their time. You'll need to cut conversations short when they're not in the mood to talk and be available when there's something on their minds. Don't ask questions that put them on the spot, such as questions about grades, jobs and finances. If they want to share, they'll share. You'll probably still do a lot of texting, but your grandchildren are probably recognizing the value of real conversations. You may still have to schedule them with a text, however.