Monday, July 07, 2008

Hello, can I help you?

Children need to be taught good telephone etiquette when answering calls.

By Rachel Goodchild

How many times have you made a phone call, to have it answered by a child, and then wonder if he or she is listening to what you are saying?

It happens too often and people don’t want to hear the child talking away, when they are trying to reach the adult. It is important that children know how to answer the telephone and how to respond to any question that are asked.

Children love to answer the telephone, especially if they have a toy one that rings. They are used to picking up the handset and talking away about anything and nothing.

But at some stage, a parent needs to tell the child that the real telephone is different from the toy one.

They need to understand that there is a real person on the telephone and that it costs them money to make a call. It might even cost a lot of money depending on where the caller lives.

If children have a toy phone, then it will be good to use that to practice on. They can pretend to answer the phone when it rings.

The first thing they need to know is how to answer the phone. Now, you as their parents have to decide if they should ever give their name. Maybe, the caller has asked to speak to a certain member of the family, but the child is confused. There isn’t anyone called Mary in the house, only Mummy. What they don’t know is that Mary and Mummy are the same people.

They then need to take the message and pass it on. That might seem a simple formula, but it is a lot for a child to remember and get right.

The child might want to talk to the person. So, he/she must be taught that there will be times when the person on the phone won’t want to chatter with him/her.

But you must also remember that not everybody will be someone who you can trust to talk to your children.

What happens if your child answers the telephone and then says that Mummy and Daddy are not in? That they are being watched by the babysitter, and then go on to chatter away, unknowingly giving away lots of personal information?

This is all part of teaching a child how to use the telephone, and how some questions are best not answered. Not that the child is going to lie but that keeping safe is the important factor.

Children need to give as much information as they have been told to give and no more. If the caller doesn’t know your child’s name, then teach your child not to give it.

If the caller says, “You must be Susan”, your child must be taught not to say: “No, I’m not Susan. My name is Jane.”

Teach your son or daughter to just say no but not to give his/her name out. Anyone who knows the child will also know the child’s name.

Good manners and keeping safe go hand in hand when a child is answering the telephone. Make sure he/she understands both.

The art of parenting
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Page 20

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