Stopping Temper Tantrums Before They Start

Scream Savers, p.6

3. Telecommuting Tactics

Today's unconventional work arrangements -- job sharing, working at home, four-day schedules -- have given rise to a new sticky situation: juggling an important call with your boss or client and a child who needs your attention now. It helps to remember that your child isn't setting out to be difficult. "Kids don't operate from the same rules we do. They don't recognize the home office as an office," says Dr. Katz.

Mary Kennedy, a director of finance at a Westport, CT, pharmaceutical market research firm and mother of four, is one of the 20 million American workers who telecommute. Before making business calls from home, she tells her older children, ages 6, 5, and 3, "Mommy's making a work call," and places drinks, snacks, and toys directly in front of them. Her 2-year-old daughter is treated to a favorite video.

Still, Kennedy says with a laugh, "I've learned that I just can't make long calls at home. Once, I had to call London and the conversation took 45 minutes. I had shooed the kids out of the room, and while I was on the phone, they got baby powder and completely covered themselves in it. They looked like powdered doughnuts."

When you get an unexpected work call, don't hesitate to say that you need to give your child a project and will call right back. This gives you breathing room to make sure your child is busy and understands the importance of the call. After you hang up, don't forget to praise your little one for being patient. "Sometimes we forget that kids need a pat on the back when they do something right," says Sale. "That's how they learn."

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