Kids of all ages often appear to have phones permanently attached to their ears, and it is sometimes hard to get a word in edgewise. As kids talk to their friends in what often sounds like an alien language, traditional phone manners may appear to be a thing of the past. Remind your kids that not every call they answer is for them, not every call they make will be answered by their buddy and not everyone who comes to the door is there to visit them. In other words, they need to learn to greet people respectfully, take phone messages correctly and be safe at the door and on the phone. In addition, don't be afraid to limit their cell phone usage. It is perfectly acceptable to tell them, "No texting or calls during meals."
Family Phone Courtesy
Teach them to be respectful when using a family phone line. When they answer the phone, they should use a traditional greeting such as "Jones residence, Susie speaking." If this seems too old-fashioned, adjust it to something that is more comfortable for your family, while still being courteous, such as, "Jones family, this is Susie." When making a call, kids should identify themselves, and then ask politely for the person they are trying to reach. Teach them to say something along the lines of, "Hi, this is Susie Jones. May I please speak to Becky?" Role-play phone etiquette with your kids until you are confident they can use proper phone manners.
Mushmouth and Messages
Remind your kids to speak clearly -- no mumbling -- when they are on the phone. In addition, they need to slow down enough from their normal speed-of-light- conversation-with-buddies pace so the person on the other end can understand what they are saying. Clarity is important for messages, too; in fact, a good rule of thumb is to not allow your little ones to answer the phone unless they can understand and write down a phone message. Teach them to say, "Just a moment, please," while they find you, or they can offer to take a message if you are not available. To be safe, teach them to repeat the message back to the caller to make sure they have it right.
Teach young children not to answer the door by themselves unless they know it is a family member or close friend. Older kids can answer the door on their own, but they need to deal with visitors courteously. Invite recognized visitors in and calmly call for a parent, telling them who is at the door. Remind them not to let strangers in -- instead, kids should politely ask them to wait outside while they get a parent. When your child is the one visiting someone else, be sure they know to not ring the doorbell repeatedly or to bang on the door. In addition, even if it is a familiar friend's house, they should not go in the house until they are invited.
Manners are important, but your kids' safety is paramount. While you are teaching them phone and door manners, stress the safety aspects. If they are answering the phone at home, for example, teach them to say, "Mom's not available right now," rather than, "My parents aren't home." Teach them never to give out their name to an unknown caller and not to open the door to a stranger. In addition, they should never go to a stranger's house unless a parent or other responsible adult is with them.