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Teaching Good Manners to Teens, Tweens Important for Success
Kids will tune out discussions about formal decree, etiquette guru Thomas P. Farley tells ParentDish, but you may be able to engage them in a conversation about feelings.
"Manners, at their core, are being aware of how your actions are going to make other people feel," he says. "They're less about what fork should I be using when I have caviar."
People with poor manners are more likely to hurt other people's feelings – and hurt feelings are something young people can relate to, says Farley, who gives manner advice online at whatmannersmost.com. If you make the lessons relevant, teenagers and tweens will pay attention, adds Cindy Post Senning, a director at the Emily Post Institute.
"This isn't a bunch of rules," she tells ParentDish. "It's how we get along with people."
And getting along with people starts with "likability," says Lyudmila Bloch, of etiquetteoutreach.com. Parents need to teach their children how to appropriately use technology, common courtesies and basic table manners, the experts agree. Teaching cell phone etiquette is extremely important, as well, Farley says.
"Impose some limits," he says. "Family dinner is sacred." And that means parents have to ignore their phones too, he adds.
Kids also need to know when and where it's appropriate to use their cell phones. He recommends not letting kids listen to music, play games or text their friends in situations where they should be "mixing and mingling" with family members or adults.
"Never give more attention to the person on the other end of the phone than to the person sitting right next to you," he says.
Among their friends, it's OK for teens and tweens to use their phones more – as long as no one is feeling left out, he says. It's also acceptable for young people to use whatever shorthand they have adopted with their friends while texting, e-mailing or instant messaging, he says.
But parents need to make sure their children know the limits of that language, Senning adds. It's not appropriate to use text messaging shorthand or other slang in an e-mail to a grandparent, teacher or respected adult, she says.
If you don't show those people respect, your relationship with them may suffer, she says.
Making children aware of such common courtesies gives them self confidence, Bloch adds. She recommends parents teach their children to be friendly to people they dislike and help them learn to make small talk. Young adults also should learn the proper way to use dining utensils, what to do with their napkin and how to identify their glassware during a meal, she continues.
Learning to chew with your mouth closed is also extremely important, Senning says. When you're a dinner guest, don't worry if you don't like something on the menu, she adds.
"There's no manners rule that says you have to eat food that makes you gag," she says. "Eat everything else on your plate."
The experts offer ParentDish readers the following tips as manner musts.
Manner Musts For Teens and Tweens
ParentDish gives you important etiquette tips for your teen or tween.
Manner Musts For Teens and Tweens
Ask Us Anything About Parenting
- (department of defense)? hey can you build me a super duper all protector? yea what you want on it $$$$$
- Using a foreign governement company to defend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA alot of .gov huh
- What's the penalty for falsley claiming relation to a person does it have to be for monetary gain or proven not just a social gesture
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.