Teaching Your Kids Proper Telephone Manners

I’m marking today’s date so in ten years (hopefully it will be that long) I can look back on September 12, 2008 and remember how blissfully uninterested my preschooler was in telephones. She knows what the device is used for and how and when to call 9-1-1, but beyond that she really has very little desire to use the phone (oh, how I wish I could freeze time) save for her occasional desire to answer it when it rings more than three times.

In my last blog I spent time discussing tips parents can use to get young children acclimated to the telephone, but if you have older children you are likely more concerned with how long they spend on the phone and whether or not they are practicing good telephone manners.

When your child gets to the point where he or she is allowed to answer the phone independently consider the following tips:

Basics. It’s a good idea to train your child not to give out personal information to anyone over the phone. I’ve known kids who have recounted their entire life story, including what they ate for breakfast that morning, on the phone before an adult in the home stumbles upon them and interrupts. Then there are those kids, who answer the phone, run to get mom or dad (allegedly) and leave the caller hanging indefinitely. You may want to work on basic skills before allowing your child to answer the phone on a regular basis.

Greeting. Keep it short, simple and polite: “Hello, may I ask who’s calling?” You’ll likely have to settle for “who is this?” or “who’s calling” at first. Also, despite your child’s incredible ability to memorize every line of “Toy Story” there is little chance that he or she will remember the name of the caller, so don’t rely on young children to relay important information.

Voice. Teach your children to speak clearly into the receiver. Some children are dying to get their hands on a ringing phone, but once they hear a voice on the other end they clam up. Encourage your children to speak clearly into the phone. You might also include a lesson on volume. Instruct your children not to yell into the receiver. This often happens when a child is left to notify their parents that they have a phone call.

Final Tip: If your child is anything like mine, she has the attention span of a gnat. When your laying the ground rules for proper phone manners use the opportunity to address the behavior your child should display when you are on the phone. A preschooler is old enough to understand the concept of patience (even though he or she might resist practicing it) and that he or she needs to wait to speak with you until you are done with your phone call.

Related Articles:

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.