Teach Your Kids Telephone Manners

One of my friends has banned her kids from using the family telephone.

The reason? According to her, kids just do not know how to answer the phone, and there have been many times when she has been extremely embarrassed by something her kids said on the telephone to her Boss at the office, or to other callers. Her kids are aged three and five.

When I told her she could actually teach them how to handle the telephone, and that there was a set of telephone manners that she could follow, she was surprised and also interested. Tell me, she said.

These are some of the tips I gave her, and today, whenever I call, and her kids answer, I feel a frisson of pleasure at the way the two young children handle the telephone, with voices that show courtesy, good manner and politeness.

You too can use these techniques:

  • It is always a good idea to have the machine answer when you are not at home; you never know who may be calling, and it is safer to not let the caller know that the children are at home alone without you.
  • Explain to your child that there is a live person at the other end, waiting to hear her reply. Teach her to say a polite “Hello!” to the caller, and also say, “Jeanie here” or “Johnny here” when she picks up the phone.
  • Teach her to ask, “May I know who is calling” and also to ask them to repeat it again a second time if necessary by saying, “Excuse me, I didn’t’ get that” to the caller, before handing the phone over to you.
  • Teach her not to be rude to the caller, even if it is an unknown and irritating caller at the other side. Teach her to say, “Just a moment, please!” before she puts the phone on hold and comes to find you.
  • Teach her not to shout out “Mommy” or “Daddy!” over loudly to you when there is a caller at the other end.
  • If your child is older, you can teach her to say, “Mommy is not at home now. Can you call back after a few minutes?” or, “Can I take a message for you?” or, “Can I ask her to call you back? She is busy right now.”
  • If your child can write, teach her to ask the caller for a name, “Can I take down your name? She will call you back when she gets back.” Your child can write down the name the caller has provided, and the number.

Always keep in mind the safety factor involved when a young child answers the telephone. Teach your child to not give out too many personal details over the phone to the caller.

Teach her to say, instead, “My Mommy/Daddy is not here right now. I will ask her/him to call you back when she/he gets back. Let me take down your name and number.”

Let your child know how to dial 911 and other emergency services, and teach her how to answer the phone properly during emergencies. Who knows, maybe it would prove to be useful some day.

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