Teaching teens about etiquette might be met with eye rolls and a few audible sighs. Etiquette can seem like an outdated concept to modern teens. Still, it's a skill that can help your teen in his dating life now and eventually can have an effect on his professional life. As Dr. Alex J. Packer, author of "How Rude! The Teenagers' Guide to Good Manners," points out, solid etiquette makes your teen stand out in a crowd. Find fun ways to teach etiquette and your teen may be more open to minding his p's and q's.
An etiquette dinner is an activity that works well for larger groups and helps teens learn more about table manners. Invite a number of teens to your home or arrange a dinner through a social or church group. Adults are then in charge of preparing and providing the meal and teens learn the right way to hold their forks, talk to waiters and chew their food politely, all in real time. Because you can see the teens eating, you can correct poor form immediately. And, because it becomes a social activity, your teen might be more apt to join in.
Good Manners Challenge
If it's the classroom that lacks good manners, teachers and other administrators can try instituting a "Good Behavior Challenge." Split the class or group into two teams and award points for good behavior, while removing points for bad etiquette, suggests the National Education Association. With a competitive aspect in play, teens might be more willing to work on their etiquette skills and because they're playing as a team, they might correct some of the sloppier members of their team for you.
Some of the most important etiquette your teen learns is how to act properly on a date. Setting up a teen speed dating event gives your teen the chance to spend time with the opposite sex while learning more about such things as proper topics of conversation, holding a chair out for his date and the all-important question of who pays the check at the end of the date. Set up a room with tables and chairs and after you've instructed the teens on proper protocol, let them practice with their "dates" for two minutes each so they have time to practice their new skills.
If you want to do a less social lesson at home with your own teens, try the M&M manners game during your next family dinner. Before dinner, each member of the family is given five M&Ms or other small candy. Throughout dinner, if bad manners are observed -- elbows on the table, chewing with mouths open -- you remove one of those candies. The first person to lose all of the M&Ms has to clean up after dinner, while those who keep all of theirs get a special treat.