How to Teach Your Teen To Use Their Manners

14 Essential Manners Every Teen Should Have

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While it is often a joke to put the words manners and teens in the same sentence, it isn't always funny when your teen's lack of manners embarrasses you in public. As a matter of fact, it can be downright humiliating.

What's worse is that we find ourselves still in the habit of correcting them in front of that same public which gains us a significant eye roll from our teen - if not more. But what can a parent do?

What manners should we expect from our teenagers? And how do we get them to use the manners we know they already have?

Teens Should Have These Good Manners

Parents can and should expect that their teens will always use these basic manners:

  • Say 'please' and 'thank you' and apologize when they have done something wrong.
  • Keep their hands to themselves and not be grabby with someone else's things.
  • Do not interrupt when someone else is speaking.
  • Say 'excuse me' when they need attention or have accidentally bumped into someone.
  • Ask permission when they want something or they want to do something.
  • Write a thank you note for gifts they have received
  • Look someone in the eye when speaking to them or meeting them.
  • Keep negative opinions to themselves and refrain from talking about or laughing at other people.
  • Be polite when making or receiving phone calls.
  • Do not act bored, even when they are.
  • Keep their hands away from their body, unless it's to cover their mouth and nose when sneezing.
  • Use proper table etiquette.
  • Don't answer their cell phone or texting when in a conversation with someone else.
  • Last, but not least, no swearing.

This is not a comprehensive list and, hopefully, your teen will acquire more through their lifetime. Instead, think of this list as a basic set of manners you want to teach them before they go out in the world.

 It is a foundation for being a polite member of society.

Mannerly people tend to be more confident and, therefore, are able to accomplish more toward their goals. You want that for your teen and teaching them good manners is a great start.

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 to them about the benefits.
  • Be fair and firm with the limits and consequences and follow through.

Gentle reminders when they are alone with you will go a lot further than correcting them in public. Don't worry if you make that mistake, you can always fall back and regroup.

Finding opportunities to talk about good manners with your teen is like finding them when you want to talk about anything.

When you see something happen on television or at your teen's soccer game, bring it up. Ask and listen to your teen's opinion and give your own letting your teen know what the proper etiquette is for that particular situation.

  • If you see your teen forget to use a 'please' or 'thank you', take them aside and gently remind them.
  • Insist on eating properly at the family dinner table with both feet on the floor and using the correct utensils.
  • You can role-play if your teen is going to be in a new situation or to help them learn new manners - like how to hold the door open for someone.

Parents should also note that manners around your teen's peers are important as well, but should never be corrected in front of their friends.

You also may want to only talk to your teen about them if they are large indiscretions, like being on the cell phone with one friend the entire time another friend is visiting. Otherwise, allow your teen's friends to influence their behavior, as they often do.

Reward Good Manners

Remember to reward good manners as well. You can even set up a reward system for the whole family, like a dinner at a favorite restaurant when you've noticed everyone using good table manners. Just be sure to praise your teen when it is warranted and not just to elicit the desired behavior

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