Does your child know your phone number? All 10 digits of your cell number? This is one of the most important safety skills we can teach our kids yet I am shocked at how few kids know their parents’ number or how to dial a phone.
In this day and age, our kids aren’t likely to find a pay phone or even a regular land line phone to call us on but if they borrow a phone and try to call you- can they?
10 digits seem like a lot of numbers to memorize (20 if you do both parents’ numbers!!), but there are some ways to make this process easier for you and especially for your child.
- Set your number as the passcode to a device your child is allowed to use. Do you have an ipad, tablet, old phone, etc that has apps for your child? Set the passcode on that device to your phone number. Apple devices don’t usually go up to 10 digits so do the first 6 and then once your child has learned those, switch it to the last 4. Why would this work? Because your child is highly motivated to get that screen time! They don’t even realize they are learning something until you review it later- putting all 10 digits together. You can use this tool with anything you can set a pass code on -Netflix, guided access on an apple device- whatever you are allowing your child to access anyway.
- Use backward chaining. This means you tell them the first 9 digits and they just fill in the 10th. Once they know that las digit consistently, then you say the first 8 and they say the last 2. Celebrate when they get it right. If they can’t remember, just tell them the correct number to say and try again. They can say the last 2 numbers? Now go for 3. You say the first 7 digits and they say the last 3. Catch the pattern? Keep going one digit at a time. This may take a few tries or several weeks. All that matters is that you get there eventually.
3.Use forward chaining. Do the same process as backward chaining but have your child say the first digit and you do the next 9. Then they say 2 digits and you say the next 8. On and on until they say all 10. I personally prefer backward chaining for teaching things like phone numbers, but you may find that you and your child prefer to go forward instead.
4. Sing it. Sing the numbers to a familiar tune like Twinkle, Twinkle or Happy Birthday or something. Just like you once used memory devices like this to study for exams in school a million years ago, making it into a song can help your child remember the correct number sequence, too. But you’ve got to sing it a LOT to first learn and then make sure you don’t just stop singing once your kid learns it once. Practice and review to make sure that catchy jingle is sticking!
5. Practice on a keypad or phone. You can find old phones to use as toys that have buttons you can actually push down. Or use your actual cell phone to practice dialing. Do this with forward chaining, backward chaining, singing the number, or any other memory device. Some people like to learn the pattern of where the numbers are located on the keypad so this method may be a good fit for your child.
There are lots more ways to teach a phone number to your child. What matters is that your child is safe and always knows how to reach you. Teach them your phone number with whatever method seems to fit best. And if it doesn’t work- try another method.
Use positive reinforcement. Learning a new skill is hard. Learning a 10-digt long number sequence can be super hard. Celebrate the progress along the way- each digit learned is cause for celebration. Give your child lots of positive attention and praise for the effort they are putting into this difficult task. Remind them how important it is to learn your phone number. Make it a fun and rewarding task for them- not a boring chore.
If you are struggling with teaching your child important safety skills like this- you are not alone! And you don’t have to do this all on your own. You can schedule a free brainstorming session any time at this link.
What ways have you tried to teach your child important personal or safety information? What methods or ideas would you add to this list?