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How to get your child to quiet down when you’re on a Zoom call


Zoombombing used to be cute… now it’s a bit annoying (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

We may be years into the pandemic, but many of us still haven’t quite nailed the intricacies of a Zoom call.

Wait, how do I share my screen? You’re on mute, mate. Can everyone else mute themselves so I can’t hear your rustling?

Parents face a unique challenge: the looming threat of one of their kids bursting into the room at just the wrong moment and making a bunch of noise as poor mum or dad is desperately trying to get through a presentation.

Zoombombing from toddlers may have been cute at the start of Covid – now, not so much.

And there’s the tricky challenge of how to shush your children without hurting their feelings or getting judged by everyone listening in over their laptops – whether as a harsh parent or one that can’t control their sprogs.

So, how to tackle this? How can you get your children to hush in a kind, gentle, but actually effective, way?

Set boundaries before the call

‘You should set out your expectations and have clear boundaries in place,’  parenting expert Auntie K tells Metro.co.uk. ‘While Mummy/Daddy is on their call, you cannot come in the room unless there is an emergency – then set out what you class as an emergency, ie not the tablet needing charging!’

Remember it’s okay to take a moment

Look, your colleagues will get it. It’s perfectly fair to say something along the lines of: ‘My daughter has just popped in, I’m just going to take a couple of minutes on mute while I help her out – can someone else run through their section and I’ll be right back?’

Then, mute yourself (that’s important), and calmly ask your child to leave the room, reminding them of the expectations and boundaries that you set before.

John Adams, dad-of-two and author of Dad Blog UK, says: ‘If you’re on a video call and a child wanders in being noisy, simply mute yourself, quickly explain the situation to your children and get back to it.’

Set up clear boundaries pre-call (Picture: Getty Images/Westend61)

Make sure kids have something to do

Distraction is a powerful thing.

‘Have activities set up for them to do independently while you’re on your call,’ says Auntie K.

Make sure that you’ve anticipated their needs before you lock yourself away in the home office – do they have a fresh cup of squash, are their (quiet) toys charged up, is the TV set to their channel? That’ll reduce the likelihood of your kids needing you just as you’re about to deliver a really great point to your manager.

Set a timer

It can be tricky for kids to understand when you say you need quiet time for an hour, or to know how long a call will usually ask.

Auntie K recommends setting a timer to make it clear: ‘The youngest knows that until the timer goes off (we use Alexa) he can’t disturb me, unless one of the emergencies that we have discussed happen.’

Have a debrief

Once your call is done, make sure to have a chat with your child, reiterating the rules, explaining why you needed them to be quiet, and stating that there will be consequences if they interrupt again.

‘Explain to your children after the call why you sometimes need a quiet environment,’ John recommends. ‘Compare it to school and what it’s like trying to concentrate in a noisy classroom, or, if they’re old enough to FaceTime people, what it’s like to FaceTime a friend in a noisy environment.’

Remain calm and remember your colleagues will understand (Picture: Getty Images)

Don’t be embarrassed

Trust us: the occasional interruption really isn’t a big deal, and you shouldn’t have a massive panic when it happens.

‘We shouldn’t be trying to replicate the office at home,’ notes John. ‘Home working is different and there will be the occasional interruption. It’s no reflection on your skills, it’s simply reality.

‘The office is held up as some paradigm of virtue, the gold standard in working environments. It isn’t. I’ve known people turn up to the office drunk, I’ve witnessed people swearing at colleagues and even heard of colleagues being caught snogging each other.

‘By comparison, a child interrupting a Zoom or Teams call is a very minor thing!’

Don’t get angry

And on that note, try to avoid getting too fuming about your children making noise. Not only will an on-Zoom blowup be quite a bit more embarrassing than the appearance of a six-year-old, but trying to force children to be seen, not heard, isn’t a healthy approach.

‘Parents shouldn’t break the habit of their children being noisy,’ John says. ‘That’s part of childhood and kids are wonderful, noisy, messy, creative individuals.

‘Work and home have blurred over the past two years so children do need to accommodate and adjust to the fact their parents need some quiet time, but it’s a two-way thing.

‘The world of work has changed and parents and employers also need to accept an interrupted Teams or Zoom call is just a part of life.

‘If you think that’s inappropriate, just think back to the days before Covif and the last Christmas party or leaving drinks you attended. I suspect the behaviour was shocking in comparison to a child wandering in to the room making noise.’

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Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.


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