Good manners show courtesy and consideration for others. Teaching teens good manners helps them connect far more easily with friends, family and strangers. They need to use “please,” “thank you” and “excuse me” appropriately, make eye contact and understand when to avoid swearing. Well-mannered teenagers approaching adulthood may perform better in interviews and enjoy a more fulfilled working life. At times, however, some teens show their independence from their families by ignoring the rules of good manners and, as a result, may appear rude or uncaring.
Demonstrate consistent good manners and become a reliable role model for your teenager. Teens often learn by following the examples they see in the home, even though they may also experiment with the behavior they notice their peers using. Speak politely at home and to people outside the family circle. Monitor your own verbal and nonverbal language, resisting any temptation to shout or to use violent language or aggressive gestures.
Talk about good and bad manners with your teenager, raising the subject at a time when both you and your teen feel relaxed. Use television programs, video games or real-life events to show how bad manners can lead to antisocial behavior like road rage. The Center on Media and Child Health notes that 84 percent of teens own a mobile phone, so include a discussion with your teenager on the etiquette of texting and using social media.
Describe the standards of behavior you expect in the home using clear language. Kids Health points out that shared mealtimes can be useful arenas for teaching manners, as the family can connect around the table. Focus on one behavior issue at a time, maybe asking your teen to wait for other family members to sit before eating or insisting she joins the conversation before she leaves the room.
Discipline your teen with firm and appropriate sanctions for breaches of good manners, always following through on any punishment you allocate. Teens often rely on their parents to drive them to a friend’s house or lend them the family car. Losing these privileges teaches them the value of obeying the rules of good manners.
Praise your teenager's polite behavior. Teach through giving consistent feedback that praises more often than it criticizes. Show gratitude to a teen who holds the door for you and commend any action that shows consideration for another person, such as a kindness to an elderly person.
Tips & Warnings
- Talk to friends who also parent teenagers so you can maintain a perspective on your own teen's behavior and share insights into successful teaching strategies.
- Persistent, constant and increasing rudeness, especially if the behavior is associated with excessive anger or even violence, may show that your teen needs additional help. Watch for any refusal to eat or changes in your teen's weight that may indicate an eating disorder and be alert for signs of substance, alcohol or tobacco abuse. If you feel anxious, a counselor or health care provider can offer you advice.
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