goodManners: Meet & Greet Helping children learn to introduce themselves and others

The beginning of school and accompanying extracurricular activities can be an exciting, yet sometimes stressful time for some children, especially when it comes to meeting new people.

Although I teach etiquette skills to children, I am always so delighted when I see them successfully applying etiquette skills in everyday life. When I accompanied my friend and their child to a new extracurricular activity one day recently, I witnessed something quite impressive. There was a happy little boy who walked up to my friend’s child, introduced himself and the two other children who were waiting for the class to start. This little 7-year-old then proceeded to casually introduce a few more children. Before you knew it the other children followed his example and introduced themselves to others who showed up for the class.

The instructor and other parents were all amazed at what we just observed. These children who didn’t know one another 10 minutes ago were all talking and playing with each other – largely thanks to the little boy who initiated a few introductions. 

Learning to properly introduce yourself and other people is a valuable life skill. If done correctly, it can make everyone feel more comfortable with one another.

When a child introduces himself he should stand, look the person in the eye, smile, greet the other person and say his name – “Hi, I’m Jeff.” If someone extends his hand then your child should be prepared to shake hands.

When your child plays with a group of children she should understand that when someone new is present, introductions are necessary. Usually, if a child is over the age of 8 she can understand that there is an order for how introductions are made.

Generally, the name said first in an introduction should be the more “honored” person. Here are some guidelines:

Position – The more distinguished person’s name should be said first. For instance, when a child introduces a teacher to a fellow student the teacher’s name should be said first – “Mrs. Smith, I would like to introduce you to my friend Hannah. Hannah, this is Mrs. Smith. She was my second-grade teacher.”

Age – An older person’s name is always said first before a younger person –  “Grandmother, I would like to introduce you to my classmate Molly. Molly this is my Grandmother, Mrs. Doe.”

Gender – When introducing a female to a male, the female’s name is said first – “Eileen, I would like to introduce you to my neighbor Gary. Gary, this is Eileen – one of my friends from exercise class.”

Even if your child doesn’t perform the introduction in the correct order or forgets the name of somebody – it would be far worse to not make the introduction at all. If your child cannot remember the name of someone, he should feel confident simply saying – “I’m sorry; I forgot your name.”

Also, out of respect, children should be taught to call an adult by their last name and salutation – (i.e. Ms. Smith) – unless the adult specifically states that it’s OK to call her by her first name.

The best way to teach your child how to make a proper introduction is to encourage her to make introductions by herself. If you observe a good introduction, praise her for doing a great job. If there is room for improvement, then privately explain what can be improved. Remind your child that the worst introduction mistake is not to make an introduction at all.