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Give Your Children a Quick Lesson in Phone Etiquette. Because They Probably Need It.

Give Your Kids a Quick Lesson in Phone Etiquette. Because They Probably Need It.

By Kelcey Kintner

The other day I heard my 10 year old daughter speaking on the phone. She was calling her grandmother (known as Nanny).  Of course, she would probably exhaust herself by actually finding the number in her contacts. She instead she said, “Siri call Nanny” and within a second the phone was ringing. And then Nanny picked up. And here’s how things went from there. (Due to the beauty of speaker phone, I could hear both sides of the conversation.)

Nanny: “Hello?”

10 year old: “Hi”

Nanny: “Hello?”

10 year old: “Hi.”

At this point, Nanny now recognizes that it must be one of her grandchildren because who else would completely fail to identify themselves and Nanny starts making guesses as to who is on the other line (she does have 8 grandchildren after all).

My 10 year old is a very smart, capable girl. There is no reason this ridiculous back and forth should be taking place. I vow immediately to give my children a lesson in telephone manners. It was definitely time to teach our kids this skill, like our parents taught us.

Remember when you were a kid and you wanted to call your best friend. First you had to dial the number. Then when your BFF’s mom picked up, you had to politely say, “Hi, Mrs. Smith, This is Kelcey. Can I please speak with Stephanie?” Yup. That whole sentence. Without Siri’s help.

Look, I didn’t love talking to Mrs. Smith (even though she was super nice). Because she was an adult. And it made me nervous. But I did it.

And our children need to be doing it too so they develop important life skills in basic communication for conducting themselves in the world. Like when they are applying to schools. And jobs. And working at jobs. Because most employers aren’t going to see the humor in a comical and confusing phone call where no one is identifying themselves.

And according to Myka Meier, Founder and Director of Beaumont Etiquette, good manners sends a message. “It’s important to explain to a child that we must practice good phone manners because it shows kindness and respect to people on the other end of the line – especially to adults.”

Also, it’s not just what you say, but how you say it. “I recommend teaching them to use a polite voice (which means not yelling into the phone and speaking clearly),” says Meier. And these kinds of verbal communication skills will go beyond the phone. “It will help them when they need to meet adults in person, as they will already understand that they need to address adults verbally with respect. It’s a great lesson to learn and and easy one to teach!”

Even though my daughter is only 10,  I do think it’s definitely time for her to learn how to conduct herself in what is considered an acceptable, basic polite way when addressing others.

So, I explained to Nanny that we would have to call her back. And this time I made my daughter do it properly.

When Nanny picked up the phone, my daughter said hello. Then she identified herself and followed it up with, “How are you?”

It was fantastic. Homeschooling is so easy!

Kidding. I leave that to the pros.

I also discussed how to appropriately close a phone call. Because kids sometimes are a little abrupt (that’s a euphemism for rude). “Yeah, gotta go. My mom is screaming that it’s dinner time.” Click.

Uh no. Especially when mom gets thrown under the bus.

Instead I suggested something more like… “It’s dinner time so I have to hang up. But it was great talking to you Nanny! Love you. Bye.” Ah… so much nicer.

And while you’re at it, you might want to review a few other tips with your children. Like, 1) you should not talk on your phones in public spaces (especially quiet ones), 2) how to answer the phone properly, 3) and, that every phone call from friends does not immediately need to be answered. It’s okay to let a call go to voicemail or a text go unanswered when you are busy spending quality time with  family. Especially that mom they tried to throw under the bus.

Photo source: Depositphotos/Yaruta


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About the Author

Kelcey Kintner

Kelcey Kintner, an award winning journalist and freelance writer, is a fashion critic for US Weekly, created the humor blog 

Kelcey Kintner, an award winning journalist and freelance writer, is a fashion critic for US Weekly, created the humor blog The Mama Bird Diaries and writes for the Huffington Post. You can follow her @mamabirddiaries or on Facebook. She’s still trying to fit 5 kids on a Vespa. 

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