By Charlene Prince Birkeland
While our kids are growing up communicating via email, text message or social media tools, there will come a time when they will actually have to use a telephone. Even if your phone only rings once a week, telephone skills and manners are important. Not only do they help kids have polished behavior on the phone, these skills are also useful for general social interaction.
What should your kids know about the telephone? Teach them:
How your telephone works. Cordless phones seem like they should be easy to use, but not so much. Make sure your kids know which button they should press to answer the phone or make a call. Also? Teach them about the mute button. Toddlers and preschool kids should know how to dial 9-1-1 in case of an emergency.
How to answer the phone when you receive a call. I recently watched a YouTube video by etiquette expert Aimee Syminton where she instructs parents to teach their kids how to answer the phone. They are to start by introducing themselves to the caller first: "Hello this is Sally Brown. May I ask who's calling, please?" I vehemently disagree. The person on the other end could be a complete stranger; no need for your child to give them his or her name, first. A simple, "Hello!" is perfectly fine.
What information they should ask and give the caller. If the caller asks who they are speaking with, your child should respond with a simple, "Who is calling and whom would you like to speak with?" Once they determine if it's a stranger or friend/family, they can answer appropriately. No need to provide the caller with detailed information, either. "Let me go get him/her" is perfect if the caller wants to speak with Mom or Dad. And a simple "X is not available right now. May I take a message?" works if the intended recipient isn't available. The child should know that under no circumstances should they give a strange caller any personal information.
How to take a message. Teach your child to write down the caller's name, phone number, and best time to return the call.
How to make a call...with good manners. When your kids are calling a friend's home, they should start their call by introducing themselves: "Hi, this is Sally Brown. May I speak with Jack Blue?" They can be a bit more casual when calling other family members, but should always introduce themselves: "Hi Grandpa, it's Delilah!"
How to leave a message. Teach your kids to leave the basics--who, what, where, when, and why: "Hi Jessie, it's Devon Sun. It's Monday at 3pm and I'm calling because I forgot what page we have to do for math homework. Can you call me at XXX-XXXX today and let me know? Thanks!"