Teaching Your Teens to Use Their Manners

A mother and daughter having tea

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 their 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:

  • Apologize when they've done something wrong.
  • Ask permission to do things.
  • Don't answer calls when they're in the middle of a face-to-face conversation.Keep their hands to themselves and don't grab things out of people's hands.
  • Make eye contact in conversations.
  • Refrain from texting and using social media when talking to people face-to-face.
  • Say 'excuse me' when they need to interrupt or if they accidentally bump into someone.
  • Say 'please' and 'thank you.'
  • Shake hands when greeting someone new.
  • Take care of basic hygiene, including coughing into their elbow and covering their mouth when they sneeze.
  • Use appropriate language and answer questions when asked.
  • Use proper table manners when eating.
  • Wait their turn to speak in a conversation.
  • Write thank you notes to people who give them gifts.

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 Encourage 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.
  • Give your teen consequences when necessary.
  • Model the behavior you want to see.
  • Talk about the benefits of having good manners.

Avoid lecturing your teen or embarrassing them in public when they make a mistake. Instead, have private conversations about their 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 them to earn their privileges back when they behaves politely. 

Give your teen opportunities to practice good manners. Returning an item to the store, scheduling their own appointment, or asking the wait staff for another drink in a restaurant serve as chances for them 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 they pick up a date for the prom, talk about how to greet their parents. Or before they go to an appointment on their own, role-play how to check-in at the desk.

When you see your teen display good manners, point it out. Acknowledge when they're doing a good job and they'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.

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