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How to Teach Your Child or Teen to Speak on the Phone

Kids and teens today seem less comfortable having a live conversation over the phone than in the past. Texting, messaging, and snapchatting have taken over as the dominant form of non-face-to-face communication for the younger set. 

And that’s okay. This isn’t a grumpy article where we’re going to complain about kids today. We aren’t saying that kids are bad at communicating because they don’t speak on the phone. In fact, the nature of modern written communication has made today’s young people better at writing than generations past. The Stanford study of writing, one of the largest of its kind, has found that young people write significantly more than previous generations, they’re better at adapting their tone and technique depending on the exact medium, and they are nearly always writing for an audience. . 

However, speaking on the phone is an important life skill, and it’s one you’ll have to teach. Because they don’t speak on the phone often, kids and teens may not sound confident when they do. Here are a few tips to help them out. 

Don’t Slouch

Sitting up straight will help your child breathe properly and project their voice. If your child has shallow breathing when they speak, they may end up mumbling, so it’s important to take deep breaths. 

Try Standing 

Standing will also help your child breathe properly, but it may also help them if they’re nervous about speaking on the phone. 

Beware of Uptalk 

Uptalk is when a speaker puts an upward inflection at the end of a sentence. Everything ends up sounding like a question. It sounds immature and many teens do it. Fortunately, uptalk is an easy habit to break. If your teen wishes to break their habit of uptalking, just get them to stop speaking when they notice themselves uptalking and then have them repeat their statement without the uptalk. They’ll be over it in no time. 

Try Rehearsing Before Calling 

Is your teen doing something a bit nerve-wracking, like calling a stranger about a job they applied for? Get them to rehearse what they’re going to say a few times before they actually make the call. It’s fine to just rehearse in the mirror. After a few times, they should be a bit more confident. 

Write Difficult Names Phonetically 

If your child is a bit introverted and worries about social slip-ups like mispronunciations, get them to write out hard names phonetically before they make their phone call. For example, if they have a phone call with Mia Wasikowska, they’d write MEE-uh vash-KOV-ska. 

Find a Private Location 

Plenty of people don’t like making phone calls in front of others. If your child is one of these people, encourage them to find a quiet place where they can make a call. 

Rehearse Leaving Messages

A good phone message should follow this formula: “Hello, this is X, I’m calling about Y. You can reach me at Z. Thank you, goodbye.” 

Leaving proper messages is an important part of phone etiquette. Get your child to practice, perhaps by calling you. 

The Bottom Line 

There are lots of reasons a child or teenager may be uncomfortable with making phone calls. They may have phone anxiety, they may not be accustomed to speaking clearly, or they may simply be out of practice. That’s okay. These are all things that can be taught, fixed, and practiced. Speaking on the phone is an important life skill, but fortunately, it’s easy to learn.