You're never too young to mind your manners.
For a Southern mama, there are few better compliments than, “Oh, your children are so well-behaved and polite!” Around here, where good manners are celebrated, mamas try to teach their little ones how to mind their p’s and q’s as soon as they’re old enough to talk. One of the first and most important lessons for children to learn? How to introduce themselves. Here, Abby Green, children’s etiquette instructor at Southern Grace in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, shares her tips and tricks for teaching even your littlest ones how to make polite introductions.
Why should you teach your children to introduce themselves?
“The art of proper introductions is a skill your children will use for the rest of their lives. Children may feel somewhat embarrassed or intimidated because they fear they will say or do the wrong thing. By teaching your children simple introduction skills, you will empower them with confidence when meeting someone new.”
What’s the best way to teach a child to introduce herself?
“The best way to teach a child to introduce themselves is to practice with them. Help your child in any area they struggle with such as having a firm handshake or maintaining eye contact, but also praise them for their strengths. Once your child has practiced a bit, they will be more comfortable in a real life situation.”
How should a child introduce himself?
“The first thing we teach children about introductions is to make eye contact with the other person. We also emphasize the importance of smiling when meeting someone new. If the introduction includes a handshake, we teach children that a firm handshake portrays confidence and makes a favorable first impression.”
At what age should your child learn to introduce herself?
“It is never too early to teach your child proper introductions. Children should learn basic introductions before beginning kindergarten. Introducing themselves to their new teacher can certainly get school off to a good start. The earlier you start, the more comfortable your child will be with introductions.”
What if your child is shy?
“If you happen to have a child who is incredibly shy, introductions may be a little difficult. Teaching your child to offer a pleasant greeting and smile may have to suffice in some situations. Remind your child that smiling will not only ease their shyness, but it will also help them to be seen as approachable and friendly. Children learn by their parents’ example, so watching mom and dad properly introduce their children will help over time.”
Should children be taught only to formally introduce themselves to adults, or to their peers as well?
“Children should be taught to formally introduce themselves to adults and their peers. Depending on the situation and the environment, some introductions will be more formal than others. However, good eye contact and a warm smile is always appropriate. It is important to teach children response phrases after being introduced to someone such as, ‘It is very nice to meet you.’ We also encourage the child to follow up by saying something nice to the person they have met. A sincere compliment is always a good way to start a conversation.”
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Abby Green, known on Instagram as @putonkindness, is the Etiquette Instructor at Southern Grace in Murfreesboro, TN, where she teaches alongside her mother, Rita Woodard, founder and owner. Southern Grace celebrated their ten-year anniversary earlier this year.