Teenage Etiquette

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How are your teenager’s etiquette skills? While ‘etiquette’ may seem like an old fashioned idea, the truth is having a solid grasp of proper etiquette will set your teen up for a life of success. It’s vital that teens learn how to be respectful and interact positively with others. A foundation in appropriate behaviour is essential in order for your teen to develop powerful social skills and generate self-confidence. If they lack in etiquette, they may struggle in unfamiliar situations and social engagements. Interviews, introductions and new activities may intimidate them or cause discomfort. Being aware of society’s expectations and rules for proper behaviour will prevent this. When your teen understands the importance of correct manners and conduct, they open the door to a future of success.

I’ve compiled a few tips on basic etiquette for teens which will help them – and you – in everyday life. Thinking small creates lasting, positive changes in the big picture.

Standing when people enter a room: this a basic show of polite manners. When someone enters a room to meet you, you stand up. Avoid rushing, as it looks panicked and clumsy, but don’t wait too long either, as that can look rude. Wait a few seconds, stand and smile at the person. Greet them with a simple “hello [name]”, or “good morning” and offer your hand. Make the handshake strong and confident, not weak and flimsy.

Makeup for the classroom: in real life, high school is not like Gossip Girl. Your teen should not be wearing extreme amounts of makeup during class. Things should be kept clean and natural looking, with no dark eye makeup or lipstick. One area of focus acceptable, e.g. the eyebrows, eyes, lips. Ensure your teen keeps the colours simple. Any lipstick should be in nude or soft pink, and eyeliner should be kept black.

How to stack a dishwasher: this one will really help out the parents! Do you find yourself constantly re-stacking the dishwasher or even worse, pulling dirty dishes off the bench top? Show your teen how to correctly stack a dishwasher to prevent this and teach them to clean up after themselves. They should rinse the dishes then stack them neatly to maximise space. They should also know how to turn it on and put the dishes away in the correct place.

Driving courteously: when your teen first gets behind the wheel, it can be pretty exhilarating for them. It’s important not to let the excitement of driving go to your teen’s head, and ensure they focus on being a good, sensible and courteous driver. Teach your teen to give way, follow at a safe distance and stick to the speed limit. Make sure they check pedestrian crossings, don’t overtake recklessly and always indicate. There are lots of rules to learn when beginning to drive, but basic politeness and respect is extremely important.

How to organise your clothing: does your teen have clothing strewn over the floor, or in odd piles around the house? You’re not alone. Showing your teen how to order their clothing teaches them important organisational skills they can apply to other areas of their life. They should have separate draws/hanging spaces for each item: pants, sweaters, skirts, dresses, tops, pajamas, underwear. Dresses, skirts and coats should all be hung, as well as pants and shirts that require ironing. Shoes should be ordered neatly in pairs, not jumbled around the place. Try to encourage your teen to put their clothing in something, so it’s out of sight – a closet or chest of drawers is perfect.

Replacing makeup items: there’s a good change your teen is using the same mascara they’ve had for the past year, which isn’t great for their sensitive eyes. School your teen in when to replace makeup products, including brushes and application tools. Makeup should be kept fresh to avoid irritating the skin.

Teenage table manners: traditional table manners go a long way. Ensure your teen does not start eating until everyone is seated, and does not leave the table until everyone is finished. When eating, mouths should be closed and elbows off the tables. Don’t let your teen shovel huge mouthfuls of food down their throat – they should eat sensibly and slowly. Not only is speed-eating bad for your digestion, it looks disgusting. It’s polite if your teen clears the table and handles the dishes in thanks of having dinner cooked for them.

Could your teen benefit from some etiquette coaching? Sign them up for my Teen Style and Etiquette course, aimed at specifically improving young adults’ manners and social skills. It’s a great day and they’ll have lots of fun.

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