As parents, it is our job to teach our kids the right way to behave in all situations! Even when it comes down to saying: Hi!
Have you ever had it happen during the “greeting” time in church when everyone goes around and shakes hands that someone shakes your hands and they don’t look you in the eyes but they are already looking at the next person whose hand they are going to shake next? Or maybe it was a teenager. Maybe you went to shake hands with a teenager and you got a wimpy, half-hearted, loose handshake!
The next time you know you are going to be in a situation where your kids are going to meet adults for the first time, have a training time to teach them how to say “hi”!
Teaching your kids the right way to meet adults for the first time should not be a public affair. If you find yourself in that awkward situation where you tell your child to shake the Pastor’s hand or say “hi” and they hide behind your leg, this is not the time for discipline or training! You don’t want to make an awkward situation into a power struggle between you and your child… because even if you win, you will have lost! Simply realize that you have some training to do and move on!
If you just had the unfortunate experience of a bad greeting, it is time for training. As soon as you are alone, talk to your kids about what just happened. Make sure they are looking at you and paying attention. Show them exactly what they did wrong by over-exaggerated body movements. If they did not look the adult in the eye, then look away or up at the sky. If they did not shake their hand hard enough, show them with a very very loose handshake. Show them what bad manners looks like.
Then show them what you expect from them. Explain to them that if they are sitting down and an adult approaches to meet them and asks their name, they should stand up, stick out their hand, look them in the eye, and in a loud voice say, “Hi, My name is (name)! It is nice to meet you!”.
Have each of your kids practice one at a time with you. Praise them excessively for each thing they do correctly. Focus on what they are doing right. Tell them: That was good but you need to work on a stronger handshake. Don’t punish or discipline them for not doing it correctly. Simply show them and keep repeating until they get it right!
One thing we do is every time we are about to meet people for the first time, we have them practice before the meeting. We usually do this in the car as we are pulling up. We remind them of what good behavior looks like and have them practice saying out loud and in a clear, loud voice what they are supposed to say.
What tips do you have to teach kids to say “hi”?