Manners for Teens
“No slurping your soup!”, “Get your elbows off the table!”, “Umm, helllloo? What do you think your napkin is for just sitting there on the table? I don’t think so, put it in your lap!”, and “Dear Emma, that’s your dessert fork… not the salad fork!”
Trust me, being the only daughter of an etiquette expert is not the optimal situation for a wanna-be rebellious teenage girl. But, whatever. None of that stuff is actually necessary to know, right? Yeah, uhh…wrong.
As much as I pains me to admit, the little stuff is what counts. I’m talking about the little stuff that will help you become confident in your interpersonal and social skills. Knowing the little tips and tricks of table manners, phone etiquette, and basic conversation skills are what’ll move you along with an actual career in the actual world, which I have yet to experience.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stuck in a carpool with a friend’s mom who has a PHD in interrogation. Parents have said that they think I have great manners simply because I can carry on a conversation and make eye contact! I know your kids may not see eye to eye with you on the fact that all this manners jibberish is relevant in any way. I mean, the last time I went to a corporate business meeting was, well… never. But I’ve been in countless situations where I’ve been glad that I have nice table manners and know how to act appropriately as a guest in someone’s house.
Being a moody, opinionated, stubborn teenage girl myself, I’m here to help a “sis’tah” out and tell you my top three recommendations for (successfully) teaching your kids manners and social skills.
Manners for Teens:
1. Stress the importance of manners and how they can actually, believe it or not, save you from embarrassment from time to time. Telling your kids and having them be aware of all the benefits of what good social skills and etiquette can bring in the long run is crucial if you want them to really listen to you. The “WIFM” – What’s In it For Me is critical for kids!
2. Telling somebody why something is important can’t be completely effective without some sort of demonstration or example. Assuming you all know your stuff, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem to show your kids the proper way to answer the phone, set the table, give a firm handshake, etc. Having your kids follow by example can be one your best strategies.
3. Practice. Practice makes perfect, right? So we’re told. Nicely reminding your kids of these simple etiquette tips, leaving out the rolling of the eyes and claiming you’ve told them 1,000 times, is what will eventually get the information and advice to stick. Nagging is not advised and usually doesn’t go over well with us independent teens, trust me.
I wish you well on your journey through the dark and dangerous forest of back-talking and eye rolling, over the treacherous mountains of burping at the table and “…sup” greetings to finally reach your destination of the Land of Well Mannered Children.
– Emma Husk, Age 14
Aimee Symington teaches manners for teens, is an etiquette expert, and creator of “Blunders” board game on manners. She has appeared on The Today Show and is a monthly etiquette guest on Charlotte Today and is the CEO of Finesse Worldwide, Inc. with offices in Charlotte and San Francisco.