Manners Minute: Introductions and Handshakes

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"A firm, hearty handshake gives a good first impression, and you'll never be forgiven if you don't live up to it.” – P.J. O’Rourke

As a mom, you’ve likely been there. You bring your child to her first family reunion, eager to show your relatives what a lovely child you’ve raised. But as you introduce her to Great Aunt Matilda, she hides behind you, looks at the ground, and mumbles her name, causing your great aunt to raise her eyebrows and inwardly shake her head over the decline of the next generation.

Do you ever wish your children had the confidence to introduce themselves to others and know the right way to give a proper handshake? The following steps will help you train your little ones to greet, meet, and converse with others in a kind and respectful way.

How to:

  1. Instruct your child to introduce herself with a strong voice by saying, “Hi, my name is ______, nice to meet you!”
  2. If your child is shorter than the person she is meeting, she should lift her eyes and chin up toward the person. Directing these body parts toward the individual enables ease of hearing and eye contact.
  3. After the name is given, a child should extend her right hand in a thumbs-up “L” position with the other four fingers closed together. Avoid the “fishy” handshake – a soft, non-confident, and gripless greeting. A good handshake shows that you are interested in meeting a person!
  4. Instruct your child to bring her hand all the way in to meet the other’s hand. Give a good grip and two to three pumps with a relaxed elbow.

Practice Makes Perfect:

Practice introducing yourself to your child as a role play activity before you head out to any major event where she will be meeting others. Pretend you are the “new person” and have her introduce herself to you. Then switch things up a bit and have her critique your handshake and introduction.

A strong handshake and confident introduction are a first step in making a good impression, and even young children can achieve success in this area!

Image Credit

Bethany Miller is the founder and director of Doors of Success School of Etiquette. A graduate of the prestigious American School of Protocol in Atlanta, Georgia and licensed by the renowned Protocol School of Washington, Ms. Miller is a teacher passionately seeking to encourage a revival of kindness and politeness in American society. For more etiquette tips, check out her course offerings and follow Doors of Success on Facebook!