Etiquette is an Important Life Skill to Focus on for Teens
Show your older kids the importance of etiquette in life by making it a priority in your home school. Etiquette is one of the life skills for teens that I’m always looking for unique ways to teach.
At its core, etiquette is making those around you feel comfortable. As parents, we’ve been teaching our kids manners since they were very young. Remember working on these?
- saying please and thank you
- basic table manners
- looking at people when they’re talking to you
- not interrupting
- and so many more.
Whew. You’re done now, right?
Nope. Not by a long shot. The topics have just changed.
Why We Must Teach Our Older Kids Etiquette Skills
As I said before, etiquette is about making others feel comfortable. Knowing that, it’s easy to see that it’s a life-long endeavor. Good manners are important for all ages.
When my children started middle school, I made the decision to be more purposeful in teaching them life skills, including etiquette. That’s why they’re always a part of our homeschool lesson plans.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that because your kids are older that they’ll automatically know how to handle the wide variety of situations they’ll find themselves in. Manners are skills that need to learned, regardless of a person’s age.
Considering the topic of etiquette is so vast, how do you know what to work on?
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What Manners Do Teens Need to Know?
My suggestion is to take some time and think about what kind of adults you want your kids to become. What scenarios do you think they will encounter? What are their communication strengths and weaknesses?
Then, make a list of topics that support all of that, set a plan and slowly work through it.
The truth of the matter is, it’s really up to you to decide what etiquette skills you want to work on with your kids. What may be important to me, may not really matter to you.
For example, your kids may have no trouble walking into a room and starting conversations, but I know that my youngest struggles with this, so it’s definitely on my list. My oldest is trying to figure out how to handle being ignored by a friend, so we’ve been talking about how she should handle that together.
Here are some suggested topics to cover with your teen.
- advanced table manners
- cell phone etiquette
- conversing with others – small talk
- entering and leaving conversations
- expectations in dating
- how to act when at a friend’s house
- how to handle yourself in an interview
- how to leave a friendship
- social media
- talking to adults
- what is gossip
This is just a very small list of potential topics you can cover with your middle schooler. I find that I’m constantly working with my teens when it comes to social skills because they’re always encountering something new. I use every chance I get to review my expectations and help them think through helpful ways to handle situations.
Once you have your list started with some key topics you want to focus on, what should you include in each lesson? How do you actually teach etiquette? I always thought it was just a skill you had, but I quickly learned that it’s actually a skill that needs to be taught. Trust me, your kids will learn these things. It’s just whether they learn them from their friends or from you.
When I was just starting to add these life skills to our lesson plans, I was a bit lost. That’s when I found what became my go-to resource. It’s called the Etiquette Factory.
Etiquette Intermediate is the second book in their 3 Phase Learning Program and it’s perfect for middle school students.
Lately, we’ve been adding in some lessons from their third book, Etiquette Masters as we work on more complex skills.
Usually, I will choose a topic from one of these books and then add some hands-on activities if my kids need more practice than what’s included in the lesson.
My #1 Tip for Teaching Etiquette to Older Kids
Make it interactive and relevant.
I’ve learned from experience that if you just sit and talk to teens about this stuff, they’ll get bored and check out. Definitely not fun for anyone.
To avoid the glazed eye syndrome, I started using real life scenarios and interactive lessons. Now not only are they engaged, they actually look forward to our “etiquette classes.”
When you give middle schoolers applicable situations (instead of random conditions), they will grasp the lesson in a whole new way.
That means role playing or working through an activity that they will most likely find themselves in, in real life. That way, when they are in that particular circumstance, a light will go off, and they’ll know what to do. They’ll be more comfortable.
Hopefully, you’ve seen that good manners are important for all ages, making it a very important subject to add to your teen’s homeschool schedule.
More Middle School Etiquette Inspiration
- How to Develop Social Skills Without Socialization
- Teaching Communication Skills
- Writing Thank You Notes
Middle School Etiquette Resources
- 365 Manners Kids Should Know: Games, Activities, and Other Fun Ways to Help Children and Teens Learn Etiquette
- How Rude!: The Teen Guide to Good Manners, Proper Behavior, and Not Grossing People Out
- The Etiquette Factory