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. Luckily, we’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. Don’t assume that because kids are older, they’ll automatically know how to handle various situations. 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 work through it.
The truth of the matter is that 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. 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.
Here are some suggested topics to cover with your teen.
- cell phone etiquette
- social media
- how to handle yourself in an interview
- conversing with others – small talk
- entering and leaving conversations
- advanced table manners
- expectations in dating
- what is gossip
Now that you know what specific points you want to cover, what should you include in each lesson?
A go-to resource of mine is 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 they’re not already included.
So where do I find these extra activities? Pinterest. I’m always updating our life skills board with cool things for teens.
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 them 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 encounter in real life. Then when they find themselves 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.