Children’s Telephone Manners and Speaking (properly) to Adults
I am frequently asked: “At what age should I start teaching my children manners?”
The answer is: From the time they are toddlers . . . and then never stop!
You should never let up or give up. Your children will grow up more confidently in every phase of childhood and adulthood, and they will thank you later for being persistent in teaching them good manners.
In a world where rudeness runs rampant, parents have the responsibility to raise children as well-mannered adults, ones who are properly prepared for their places in society. Parents - it is crucial for you to consistently set the right example that you expect your children to demonstrate. Children always pay more attention to what you do than to what you say!
Parents – children can’t learn what they do not hear. Your children will watch and listen to your behavior and try to mimic you from an early age so always remember you are constantly teaching by example: how to properly answer the telephone, how to listen, answer questions politely, and also what "not" to say.
Safety: Parents, be very clear with your children about what they can/can’t say to callers. Never give personal information i.e., your name, home address. If the caller insists, politely ask them to “call another time” and say “goodbye”. If the caller is rude or lewd instruct your child how to handle this situation: hang up immediately and inform you or the caregiver.
Also, teach your child to use caller ID and the answering machine. Both are very valuable tool for screening sales calls and wrong numbers.
Below is a general guideline for telephone use by ages
What to Expect From Children Three To Five Years
-Answering the phone. Starting with a simple “hello” at three working up to “Hello, Weaver residence”, by age five.
-Speaking with monosyllabic words like yes and no is the norm. Helping your child enunciate even small words on the telephone at an early age is important. VERY IMPORTANT - tendencies such as nope, huh, yeah can be eliminated before bad habits are formed.
-Learning to dial a common number is excellent practice. For example: your home phone number. (dialing it over, and over and over - you know the drill!)
-Remembering a message is a very high expectation even for a five year old. Most children in this age group do not understand the concept of taking a message. (I always witness this with my husband – not sure what to do about it?)
Ages Six To Nine Years
-Your child is building momentum for what’s to come in the next few years, and will enjoy being on the telephone – making/taking calls and generating dialog with others instead of only responding to questions.
-Children at this age take great pride in learning a new skill and are often quick learners.
-Children this age will still have some difficulty taking messages and remembering what was said. A message board by the phone comes in handy.
-Constant reinforcement of phone manners is necessary and a reminder that talking on the phone is a privilege and privileges can be expanded if proper telephone manners are used.
Ages Ten To Fourteen Years
-Boundaries will need to be set by this age to determine how long calls can last.
-Constant reminders of telephone manners are necessary and that phone privileges can be severely restricted.
Fifteen Years And Up
-Excellent telephone manners should already be intact!
-By this age, your teenager is going to want to talk on the phone all the time – so good luck!
Children Speaking In Person To Adults
-Parents it is always up to you! Teach your child and set the example by: always standing up when meeting a new person, smiling, looking them in the eye, shaking their hand firmly, letting the new person know you are happy to meet them by repeating their name in conversation. Children should use Mr. or Mrs./Ms/Miss until advised otherwise.
Basic manners are many times overlooked by adults but expected from their children. We should never expect more from our children that we give. Also, at all ages, encourage and praise exceptional manners and teach your child to say “thank-you” sincerely when a compliment is passed their way.
Practice make perfect! Whether it is meeting a new person (in person) or answering the telephone - minding your manners sets everyone up for success.
Parents, promise me one thing ... You will work persistently and consistently with your children. Having good manners is not a quick fix, but a habit that must be developed over time. Imagine what could happen if we worked diligently with our children on one tip a month this year. We can change the world – one child, one tip at a time!
Joy Weaver is a nationally renowned etiquette expert, speaker, spokesperson, and author of Just Ask Joy… How to Be Socially Savvy in All Situations
—a book highly endorsed by Jean and Zig Ziglar. Joy represents designer Joseph Ribkoff and is a regular guest on ABC’s Good Morning Texas. She is nationally published and has been featured on ABC’s The View, in the Associated Press, New York Times, USA Today, Southern Living
Magazine, Dallas Morning News,
and The Dallas Business Journal
. Protocol Enterprises/Just Ask Joy is based in Dallas and has served clients across the country since 2000. You can learn more at www.justaskjoy.com
, find her on www.twitter.com/sociallysavvy
, or visit her blog at www.allthingsrefined.blogspot.com