It’s a busy, and often times, rude world we live in. In the rush of daily life, it seems people often forget little courtesies and sensitivity to others. We’re bombarded with images of ill-mannered adults on reality TV, in media, on Facebook. Sometimes it seems that rudeness has become acceptable in our society or, at least, just a fact of life that we must deal with.
And yet, we want our teens to be well-mannered and expect that they’ll know what this means? Are we taking the time to teach them manners at home and showing our children how good manners are a daily part of our life?
As with any skill, learning to incorporate good manners into daily life takes knowledge and practice. Here are some ways you can make your home a more well-mannered place and set your children on the path to being well-mannered, courteous adults.
Be a Role Model
You may feel like your teen never listens to you, but she does. And more importantly, she is watching what you do. Do you fume impatiently at other drivers or call them names under your breath? Do you make comment on other people’s appearance, choices, or actions? Do you lose patience with service people, such as waiters, store clerks, or online customer support? You may not even be aware of these things, but your teen is likely noticing – and filing away the information about how to act as an adult when faced with stressful or challenging situations. So, try putting on a smile and being more patient with others; watch the words you use and what you choose to comment on; try to be a positive role model for your teen.
Teach the Right Behaviors
The primary parental responsibility is to be your child’s teacher, advocate, and guide to adulthood – not to be his friend. When you see your child using poor manners or being disrespectful to others, it’s better to tell him and help him correct this behavior. Parents might be afraid of hurting their child’s self-esteem or embarrassing him, but in the bigger world beyond the safe haven of home, your child will have to know how to control his behavior and manage the consequences of his actions. And teaching proper and socially acceptable behavior at home is key to raising well-mannered teens who will make you proud in public.
Monitor the Media
Reality television, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – it’s all about sharing every mundane detail of life, including, all too often, very bad behavior. The interactive nature of today’s media also encourages commenting on others’ choices and actions. And that’s not exactly conducive to promoting a culture of acceptance and respect for others.
Even television shows aimed specifically at children and teens often show young characters who are bossy and demanding to their parents, teachers, or friends. The “diva” seems to be a central, and often imitated, character in many shows and movies.
Be aware of what your child is watching and how much time he spends on social media. Have open discussions about what you’re seeing and hearing and how those might conflict with your family’s values. Talk about what behaviors are not acceptable and what better choices could be made. Monitor your own social media usage as well. If your child sees you oversharing, commenting on other people, or using bad language, he’ll get the message that rudeness is acceptable, at least in the cyber world.
Set Rules – and Enforce Them
Home is the perfect place to establish guidelines that can help your teen practice self-control, patience, and getting along with others. Have family rules about things such as meal times, household chores, cell phone usage, and respecting others. Discuss the rules clearly and establish consequences for breaking them. For example, having a cell phone is a privilege and the family rule might be to not use the cell phone during homework or family times; if that rule is broken, the phone is taken away for a specified period of time.
These rules will help to create a respectful environment in your home, making your daily family life more enjoyable. They’ll also help to guide teens toward appropriate behavior that can be applied in adulthood.
We want our children to thrive and succeed and to be accepted by peers and society at large. Having good manners and knowing how to interact appropriately with others is the basis for that. Manners provide rules to help teens feel safe in this world and comfortable around peers, teachers, and even strangers. Manners act as a set of rules to help guide teens into adulthood and become contributing, self-confident members of their communities. Quite simply, though, it’s just nicer to be around people with manners!
Take time each day to model good manners, guide your children to use their manners, and create a home environment with consistent rules based on respect for ourselves and those around us. The results are worth the effort.