Children's Etiquette for Making Introductions
|Maura Graber with client Bob Phillips|
Do your children "do as you do" when it comes to "How do you do?"
Teaching children basic rules of etiquette, such as how to make a proper introduction, gives them a foundation of good social skills that helps in forming and maintaining friendships. Etiquette expert Maura Graber advocates teaching children at around the ages of 3 or 4 to make a proper introduction. If you start etiquette lessons when children are young, they do not develop bad habits and can approach social situations with confidence as they will know what to do. Young children who can make a proper introduction often endear themselves to adults and the positive feedback children receive encourages them to be active socially.
- Teach children to approach the adult with a smile. Graber indicates many etiquette mistakes will be forgiven if children show they are friendly and attempting to be polite. It’s important to make eye contact to show your good intentions. Coach the child to stand up straight and approach the situation with enthusiasm. Have children practice smiling and maintaining eye contact with each other, with a parent, teacher or with a favorite stuffed animal. Give surprise awards in class when you see children approach each other with good posture, smile and eye contact. Praise children who are struggling to remember these three non-verbal cues by noticing when they do remember one or more cues and sharing how happy you are to see them improving.
Use of Titles
- Call adults by a title such as "Mr.," "Miss," "Mrs." or if uncertain of a woman’s marital status, use "Ms." when introducing her. The Family Education website advises that children introduce themselves to a stranger by their surname. It is permissible however, to use a first name if the adult asks to be addressed in this more informal style. Your children can also state a family rule, if one exists, that they should call all adults by their surnames. Introduce the person with the highest status first. Older persons, teachers, professors or distant relatives for example, should be introduced to your parents. Therefore, a child would say, "Dr. Dennis, please meet my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Smith."
What to Say
- Teach children to make a brief explanation about how they know the people they are introducing. If they are introducing their teacher to their parents, for example, they would say, “I would like you to meet my teacher, Mrs. Hill. Mrs. Hill, these are my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” If children are being introduced to someone, they should make a brief, pleasant comment such as, “Nice to meet you.” Encourage them to speak in a clear, confident manner so everyone can hear what they are saying.
What to Do
- Children should stand when meeting an adult but remain seated when meeting someone their own age. Standing is a sign of respect used to defer to those who are older or who have more status, such as a congressman or member of the clergy. Teach them to extend their hand fully and shake hands firmly. Have children practice standing and shaking hands so they develop a style that comes naturally.
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