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Teaching Your Kids to Take Telephone Messages

The telephone is there so that family members can communicate with the outside world. To do that, you need equipment for both incoming and outgoing calls.

Incoming Calls

How many times have you spoken to a friend, only to learn that she already called, but you never got the message? The importance of message-taking must be emphasized, and it should be stressed as an obligation for all members of the family. To encourage this, keep a pad and pen near each phone.

When a call comes in for you, your teen should:

  • Handle the call politely.
  • Take down the person's name (asking them to spell it if necessary) and telephone number.
  • Leave the message in a predesignated spot so that you will see it.

In return, promise that you will do the same for your teen. If a call comes in while he is asleep or out, leave a message as to who called.

Outgoing Calls

When your kids were little, classroom teachers and Scout troop leaders probably distributed class and troop lists with phone numbers. Having this type of list for your teen can be invaluable. Use a small binder and ask him to write in the names and phone numbers of his closest friends. You can also include addresses and the names of parents (if you know them). That way, you always have a way of getting in touch with your teen.

If your teen thinks this is an invasion of his privacy, you should put the list together yourself. The next time you drop him off at Bill's, for example, you'll probably be able to gain enough information (like last name and address) to get the telephone number from the phone book.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Parenting a Teenager © 1996 by Kate Kelly. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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