It is a matter of knowledge of just how to do it, and adults know how. Shaking hands, introducing yourself, how to act, manners…we can all learn them. Teaching children is a huge responsibility, and we can do it. Children sometimes consider themselves fearful about a lot of things, and meeting strangers can for sure be scary. By taking a series of calculated methods, we can for sure help them to be more comfortable in social situations. By raising respectful children, we help them to be comfortable with themselves.
It is through our relationships that we learn. From babyhood on, we have relationships, be they with our parents and other relatives, friends, co-workers, government officials, etc.
Our children mirror what adults sometimes feel: meeting new people can be scary. Children who are confident and outgoing in most situations are sometimes shy, or get upset, when they
are meeting new people. As it is said, knowledge is power and so the teaching of reticent children about what behaviours are expected when meeting someone new helps them feel confident about themselves. Even the youngest of children want to do well and do not want to be embarrassed by doing something that may be looked at as silly or incorrect when they are in a new situation.
So our objectives as caring adults are to help them understand that they are not alone and, in fact, a lot of human beings are afraid when meeting new people. It is not that difficult to teach the mechanics of meeting someone, but it is imperative that we teach it.
One method is to go in reverse–that is to say that we start with what we don’t do and make it into again. We ask what we do when we meet someone new? Lightening up the situation will likely get us results. Ask questions guaranteed to make even the most serious or frightened child laugh.
So when you meet someone new, what do you do? You could suggest such things as making a silly face and running away.
“Does anyone throw a sandwich and at them and laugh?” might be a question, or, “Do you quack like a duck?”
You can tend, then, a bit more toward the serious by asking if it would be a nice thing to say that someone is stupid and ignore them?
No, of course not! You can then talk about eye contact and explain how if you don’t look people in the eye, they will think you don’t respect them. Also, their face is important. Smile. Have the children make other faces that connote a lack of positivity such as a mad or tired face. Emphasize that these do not make people comfortable and welcome.
“What would work instead?” you ask. Any child will usually smile and you can take this opportunity to explain that smiles are contagious. You could play a game of Pass the Smile by lining up the children and have one smile at another and “pass it on.”
You can then take those smiling children to another level by introducing words. Polite words.
Say hello, and say your name.
But those are just words without action, body language, proper posture, and handshakes.
First, we make eye contact with supplementing it with smiling and introductions (the children saying their names. From there, we introduce other aspects like handshakes and introduce the importance of first impressions.