We are over a year into a global pandemic, and communicating through video calls is now a normal way of life for many. It can be fraught with technical difficulties, but we usually make it work. I applaud those who aren’t tech-savvy for putting yourselves out there to stay connected with your younger grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. However, after facilitating hundreds of video calls between my spirited one-year-old daughter and family nationwide, I’ve noticed some trends. So, I’d like to offer some suggestions on how to make video chats with the littles a bit easier.
1. Take Things Slow
Just as in person, it may take a while for your little video chat buddy to warm up to you. It might feel like every call is starting from ground zero, but trust me when I say progress is being made. We started video chats with my little one even before her eyes could focus. Granted, at that time it was more us showing off our new addition. However, with repetition, she did become accustomed to their voices.
2. Take an Interest
I noticed that my toddler was quicker to warm up to callers who knew her favorite songs. Maybe you can ask what animals they saw recently at Riverbanks Zoo, or what new song they learned at their music class. They may be little and have ever-changing tastes, but it’s worth doing a little homework beforehand so you are up on your toddler’s (newest) favorite thing.
3. Try to Be Patient
Toddlers have a lot to say even if it’s non-verbal. After asking a question, it’s important to give them plenty of time to communicate back to you. Yes, there may be some awkward silences, but they will sense if you want to listen to them. My daughter signs about half of her vocabulary so I appreciate it when others take the time to learn a few Baby Signs as well.
4. Be Considerate of Time
A toddler’s mood can be unpredictable at times. So, to increase the chance of them being in a good mood when you call, it’s best to avoid meal times, nap time, and around bedtime. Even if they are in the best mood, since toddlers have a pretty short attention span, it’s best to keep the call short.
- 5. Don’t Take Offense
If the little ones you chat with are anything like my girl, they will probably be moving around the room during the call. When this happens, keep talking so they can hear you. Maybe sing one of those songs you’ve been practicing. Also, I’m personally usually off-camera during these video calls. I’m not being antisocial, I just don’t want to interfere or overshadow your time with my daughter. I also might be folding some laundry while she is distracted. Just know it’s to be respectful of your time with her, so there’s no need to be offended.
6. Don’t Focus on Milestones
These calls should be fun, but the quickest way to drain the fun is by trying to get my toddler to show off the new milestones she’s reached. Your toddler might oblige but if they don’t, it’s best to move on to a different topic. I promise they will show you they can take a few steps when they are ready to share.
Honorable Mention: Avoid the Word “No”
As mentioned above, I may not be partaking in the call but be assured I am there monitoring my toddler. So there isn’t a need to spend your 15 minutes of special time trying to correct their behavior. It will just frustrate all parties involved.
Whether you’re grandma, grandpa, other relatives, or family friends, I want you to keep your bond strong with my children. We do love you and value your efforts to grow your relationship no matter the physical constraints. I see how your eyes light up when my little one pops up on the screen. I just want these interactions to also be enjoyable and beneficial for my toddler and myself as well.