Older children can answer the phone as long as they know the rules.

Teaching Children How to Answer the Phone

by Sara Ipatenco

The telephone might seem like an innocent device, but it can pose a peril to children who don't know proper phone rules and etiquette. As your child gets older, he might like the responsibility of answering and using the telephone. Before granting him permission, set a few rules that will guide his behavior and help keep him safe and ensure that he knows the etiquette of proper phone behavior.

1. Manners

A certain etiquette is involved when a person answers the telephone. Your child doesn't know what's appropriate and what's not appropriate unless you teach him. Show your child how to answer the phone with a pleasant "Hello." You might take it a step further and require your child to answer the phone by greeting a caller with "Hello" and your last name, such as "Johnson residence, Carolyn speaking." Also teach your child how to write down a message in the event the caller is looking for someone who isn't home at the moment.

2. Safety

Your child needs to know a few safety guidelines before answering the phone. Instruct your child to never answer the phone and tell the caller that he's home alone or that mom or dad aren't there right now. Instead, teach your child to tell the caller that you can't take the call at the moment and ask to take a message. Younger children shouldn't answer the phone at all unless you have caller ID and know that it's grandma on the other end because younger children are more likely to share personal information with strangers. Your child should also know to never give out addresses, other phone numbers, such as a cell phone number, or any other personal information. If you're worried about your child sharing information, make it a rule that he isn't allowed to answer the phone at all and let the call go to voice mail instead, the University of Wisconsin Extension suggests.

3. Practice

Once you've outlined the rules to your child, practice a few times before letting him answer the phone on his own. Do some role-play activities. Pretend to be a stranger calling. Ask your child personal questions such as what his address is and whether his mom is home and where she works. See whether your child responds appropriately by not answering the questions and offering to take a message. You might also ask a grandparent, aunt or uncle to call your child so he can practice answering the phone politely.

4. Additional Tips

Always model appropriate telephone behavior. If your child sees you answering the phone politely, he's more likely to follow suit, Education.com reports. Reserve the right to revoke phone privileges if your child breaks the rules. If your child doesn't answer the phone politely, take away his right to do so. Older children who don't follow proper phone etiquette might even need to have their cell phones taken away. Instruct your child to simply hang up on someone if they are being rude, asking inappropriate questions or using obscene language.

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