Teaching etiquette for teens can be a difficult task. Many teens are not willing to listen as they try to exercise their own independence. From our point of view though, manners for teens is important because we feel that it is an indicator of their maturity level. So, how do you teach it to them?
We have some ideas for you on how to teach etiquette to your teenagers. Here are a few ideas:
1. You have to start early - If you only begin teaching manners when they hit the teenage years, you have missed the boat. Teaching habits (including manners) is easiest to do when they are young and learning new habits and skills. Family manners demonstrated all along are easier to teach.
Think about your teenage years for a moment...you were trying to find out your own identity and who you were. You were learning to be independent and how to make your own choices. You were also learning about the consequences of making your own choices. In that type of an environment, it becomes too difficult to add something else that they are supposed to learn.
In many ways, they are experiencing sensory overload and their hormones are intensifying that overload. If you want to try to introduce manners at that age, be my guest! You will have much more success teaching etiquette for teens at an earlier age.
2. Practice at home - To have the best success teaching manners to teens, you have to provide opportunities for them to use what they have learned and it takes a consistent, focused effort. Here is what I mean...
If you are trying to teach table manners to your children, you cannot have one night where you are going to use manners, and then the other nights they go back to their old habits. In order to reinforce the behaviors, you have to repeat it and be consistent. Give them opportunities to use their table manners, communication manners, dating etiquette, and on...
3. Pay attention to their actions and reward good behavior - Here is an example...my oldest child is nine years old. When he and his friends are over, sometimes they like to do silly boy things (belching, farting, etc.). When these things happen, it is a teaching opportunity for both my son and his friend. I can take them in a plate of cookies and let them know that they have a choice.
The choice is to stop the offensive behavior and eat the cookies, or they can continue and not have the treat. Treats are such an easy motivator. My kids will do just about anything for a Slurpee or a milkshake! The reward for the desired behavior begins teaching them at an early age that manners and etiquette are important. That is why teaching etiquette for teens is so important to start at an early age.
4. Teach before they get there - Let me illustrate with a story that a co-worker told me about when his 5 year old son started playing baseball.
The coach for his son was spending time with the kids showing them how to swing the bat the right way and how to hit the ball off of the tee. When the first boy hit the ball with the bat, the coach started screaming to the kid to "run to first base!" The kid just started running (the wrong direction) because he did not know what first base was or where it was at. Running to first base is not a natural instinct...it is something that is taught.
Teaching etiquette for teens is the same way. Showing respect and manners is not instinctual. They are learned behaviors. So, if you want them to open a door for a girl, then you need to teach them how to act on a date. In fact, if you are looking for teen dating tips, go check them out.
If you want them to learn how to act at a dinner table, then you have to teach that behavior. If you make the mistake and assume that they know, I can guarantee that they do not know. So, teach them what to do before they get in that situation.
5. Remember to teach about technology too - Technology is such a huge part of their lives nowadays. So, make sure that you include etiquette tips for cell phones, phone manners, computer etiquette, social media etiquette, etc. In all honesty, etiquette for teens is a very vast topic.
If you do not cover these areas, you are going to miss a vast area of etiquette that is widely ignored these days. I can't tell you how many times I have tried to talk to a teenager over the music that is blaring on their earphones from their iPod.
I hope these tips for teaching etiquette to teens makes a difference in helping them mature and become who they should be.