Teaching Your Teens to Use Their Manners

Teach your teen to have good manners.
Beauty Photo Studio/age fotostock/Getty Images

When most parents think about teaching manners, they envision telling a preschooler to say 'please' and 'thank you.' But, good manners goes far beyond those words and it's important to make sure you're teaching your child good manners into the teen years.

Unfortunately, in the digital age, many teens aren't learning basic social skills, like cellphone etiquette. And there are many manners teens often forget even though they've learned them in the past. 

Sometimes, teens go through phases where they want to look cool and manners go out the window. At other times, they get a little sloppy and forget to be polite.

Raising a kind and caring teen who uses good manners could be very beneficial to his future. Teens with good manners will command more respect, which could help them socially and academically. 

Basic Manners Teens Should Know

Sometimes, teens need a little refresher on the basic manners department. It's easy for them to develop a few bad habits when hanging out with their peers or they may get a little lazy from time to time. 

Here are some basic manners you should ensure your teen uses on a regular basis:

  1. Say 'please' and 'thank you.'
  2. Apologize when he's done something wrong.
  3. Wait his turn to speak in a conversation.
  4. Keep his hands to himself and don't grab things out of people's hands.
  5. Say 'excuse me' when he needs to interrupt or if he accidentally bumps into someone.
  6. Ask permission to do things.
  7. Write thank you notes to people who give her gifts.
  8. Make eye contact in conversations.
  9. Shake hands when greeting someone new.
  10. Use proper table manners when eating.
  11. Refrain from texting and using social media when talking to people face-to-face.
  12. Don't answer calls when he's in the middle of a face-to-face conversation.
  13. Use appropriate language and answer questions when asked.
  14. Take care of basic hygiene, including coughing into her elbow and covering her mouth when she sneezes.

In our digital world, it's easy for teens to lose sight of basic manners. But grunting when Grandma asks a question or texting when eating a meal is rude. So it's important to teach your teen how to communicate, interact, and respond to others in a polite and kind manner.

How to Get Teens to Use Good Manners

You can get your teen to use their manners the same way you get them to do anything else:

  • Be clear about what you expect.
  • Talk about the benefits of having good manners.
  • Give your teen consequences when necessary.

Avoid lecturing your teen or embarrassing him in public when he makes a mistake. Instead, have private conversations about his manners when you see a problem.

The exception to the rule is disrespect. If your teen is disrespectful toward you, intervene right away. Make it clear that you won't tolerate being treated in an unkind manner. Remove your teen's privileges and allow him to earn them back when he behaves politely. 

Give your teen opportunities to practice good manners. Returning an item to the store, scheduling his own appointment, or asking the wait staff for another drink in a restaurant serve as chances for him to practice his skills.

You can also talk about characters on TV or in movies and how they interact with others. Discuss how manners affect people's lives. 

When your teen is about to enter a new situation, role play. For example, before he picks up a date for the prom, talk about how to greet her parents. Or before he goes to an appointment on his own, role-play how to check-in at the desk.

When you see your teen display good manners, point it out. Acknowledge when he's doing a good job and he'll be more likely to keep up the good work. Your feedback can be a critical component of your teen's ability to learn new manners and sharpen his skills.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Spies shapiro LA, Margolin G. Growing up wired: social networking sites and adolescent psychosocial development. Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev. 2014;17(1):1-18. doi:10.1007/s10567-013-0135-1

  2. Beyens U, Yu H, Han T, Zhang L, Zhou X. The strength of a remorseful heart: psychological and neural basis of how apology emolliates reactive aggression and promotes forgiveness. Front Psychol. 2015;6:1611. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01611

  3. Jiang J, Borowiak K, Tudge L, Otto C, Von kriegstein K. Neural mechanisms of eye contact when listening to another person talking. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2017;12(2):319-328. doi:10.1093/scan/nsw127

  4. Martin-biggers J, Spaccarotella K, Berhaupt-glickstein A, Hongu N, Worobey J, Byrd-bredbenner C. Come and get it! A discussion of family mealtime literature and factors affecting obesity risk. Adv Nutr. 2014;5(3):235-47. doi:10.3945/an.113.005116

  5. Law BM, Siu AM, Shek DT. Recognition for positive behavior as a critical youth development construct: conceptual bases and implications on youth service development. ScientificWorldJournal. 2012;2012:809578. doi:10.1100/2012/809578

Additional Reading