The beginning of the school year is often full of reunions with peers and adults, as well as interactions with new friends and mentors. Sondra Scott, Denver-based etiquette consultant at The Swann School, encourages kids to try these time-tested strategies to navigate initial introductions gracefully and confidently.
Chances are, everyone has at least a few first-day jitters. Try breaking the ice by offering a compliment on your soon-to-be friend’s Elsa-inspired dress or allosaurus-adorned T-shirt. “It makes them feel included and important,” Scott says. Certainly be sure to extend the same courtesies to everyone, no matter their culture or ethnicity.
Err on Formality with Adults
“It may seem old-fashioned, but you always address adults as Mr., Mrs., or whatever they ask you to address them as,” Scott says. It’s fine to use informal names if the adult makes the request, but always begin the interaction with the more formal title.
Reciprocate a Question
After brief name exchanges, conversations often turn to “how are you” lines of questioning. You should respond honestly and appropriately to this initial query and then ask how your conversation partner is in return. Remember, “It’s not all about you,” Scott says. “It’s about other people as well.”
Nonverbal communication matters too. Cover your mouth when you sneeze, avoid picking your nose in public, and show interest when a new friend is speaking.
3 Conversation Starters for Kids
- What was your favorite thing you did this summer?
- What do you like to do after school?
- How many brothers and sisters do you have?