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Phone Finesse: Teaching Kids About Answering And Talking On The Phone

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

As kids approach grade school age, start developing social circles and making friends, and especially if they are little girls, they often eagerly look forward to hearing the familiar ring of the phone. And, they have no reservations about running to answer it.

But, what if it’s someone for YOU, or how about a business call, solicitors, or maybe (as much as we may not want to think about it) someone they shouldn’t be talking to (at all)?

Then there’s always the (mortifying) possibility that your child will come across as “rude” as he or she answers with a less than polite, “hello”, followed by placing the phone down and walking away to find you or SHOUTING for you to pick up the phone, OR revealing information that they don’t know or realize should be kept to themselves.

Experts asserts that what WE take for granted as far as manners and etiquette are concerned, are things our children still have to learn. And, besides setting a good example, we must also set time aside to instruct them on and enforce proper behaviors.

Professionals point out that it’s important to help your child understand that when answering the phone he or she is representing the family (or maybe even your business). And they add that parents must first decide what that representation should be (and it may be different for personal call and business calls)

Kids say experts are typically ready to start answering the phone by age 6 or 7 but only while a parent is at home, but can only sort callers into select categories such as people they know and those they don’t. So, when a telemarketer or business associate calls, you child won’t know if they should be classified as strangers (not worth talking to) or someone they should speak to or ask you to talk to.

With that said, professionals suggest developing and implementing a three-part “program” that you and your child can practice together.

· Say hello, this is the _____________ residence

· Instruct your child to ask about whose calling by stating, “may I ask whose calling please”

· Upon receiving an answer from the caller have your child say, “please hold”, then inform someone who is at home. If the call is one TO be taken, have your child get back on the phone and say, “thank you for holding, ___________will pick up in a minute or momentarily”; otherwise have your child state: “ thank you for holding. I’m sorry, but ___________ can’t take your call right now, but will be happy to call you later. May I please have your name (again), and your number? By the way, what is the best time to reach you”

Once this system has been implemented, professionals suggest several mock practices with your child, even asking friends and family to call. And, don’t forget to teach you child how to use caller ID.

Let your child take each of the incoming calls and stay close by listening in offering correction and guidance for mistakes made and praise for a job well done.

Finally, make sure that you child understands that he or she should never tell anyone he or she is home alone or offer any personal information, such as name, age, address and phone number. As your child grows and matures he or she will begin to have an extended understanding and list of callers, including friends (of their own) as well as family friends and other family members, even your business associates. They will also begin to understand which calls should be taken, which should be screened, how much information should be given out and to whom. And, if you’ve done a good job, you and your child will get compliments on a job (and manners) well done, just don’t forget to share (the credit and the compliments).

Business Call Etiquette:

Whether you work or do charity work at home or not, you may get some professional calls at home, and the last thing you want is your child tugging at you for attention or acting in a distracting manner. Experts suggest avoiding embarrassing situations by setting up a best-case (phone) scenario with your children before hand.

Another option if designating a specific phone line, (that only you and your spouse answer), for business calls or setting up a phone in a designated area away from noise and other distractions.

Establish a hand signal to non-verbally let your child know not to interrupt. Or, you can let the machine pick up and you can return the call, when things (on your end) calm down.


Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > Phone Finesse: Teaching Kids About Answering And Talking On The Phone

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