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6 Tips for Parents on How to Teach Etiquette to Kids: Meet and Greet

From a cross-cultural perspective common greetings can vary immensely across cultures. Acceptable greetings range from a simple wave of the hand, a light kiss on the cheek to kisses on each cheek, bowing, hugging, even rubbing noses, and, believe it or not, sticking tongues out at one another. For children, meeting and greeting others can be awkward skills to learn. So how can we help them?

Two children shake hands while making eye contact and smiling
How to meet and greet the proper way

Tip #1 - Show your children by example.

Learning usually take place in the home, through imitation. Children learn by observing others. If you model appropriate behaviour, your child will follow suit. Do not underestimate the influence you will have on them long-term.

Tip #2 - Encourage them to try.

It is always a good idea to introduce your children to new acquaintances. Talk to your children about how important it is to greet in a warm and friendly mannerly. That means smiling, looking the other person in the eye and standing with good posture. If they feel shy about greeting people let them know that many of us, children and adults, feel exactly the same way.

Tip #3 - Practice practice practice!

Giving your children a chance to practice their manners can help alleviate the anxiety they often feel around strangers. And the safest place to sharpen your children's greeting and goodbye skills is at home with family members. Practicing allows your children to reshape all sorts of behaviours.

Tip #4 - Share some stories

Children always seem to be fascinated by the story around the history of the handshake. Sharing these stories with your children can raise the importance of getting the handshake right. During the Middle Ages, only men carried swords. If two men met and their intentions were bad, they would reach for their weapons with their right hand to stab each other. If, however, they came in peace and they wanted to get to know each other, instead of reaching for a weapon, they would offer an empty and open right hand, palm facing upwards.

Practice shaking hands as often as possible.

Children look at a screen that explains the history of shaking hands
Etiquette professional, Laura Windsor, talks about the history of shaking hands

Tip #5 - Rehearse with them just before your visit

If you are visiting someone that day, it is helpful to discuss who will be there, what is likely to happen and what they should say as they enter. Make sure they remember that shaking hands is just as important. Also remind them that when it is time to leave it is important to say goodbye as well.

Tip #6 - Use a secret signal to prompt your children

A secret signal can be a useful way to prompt your children to remember the steps to greet and say goodbye. May it simple for them. You might lightly squeeze their hand or put your hand on their head as a prompt that means, ‘remember to greet or say goodbye to this person’. Always commend your children when they respond by using their skills.

Even if your child learns just one of these skills today, the most important would be eye contact. If your child shakes hands and says hello correctly, and smiles at the ground, without eye contact he really hasn't made a connection. Click Here for more information.

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