Proper Behavior for High School Teens

By Sandy Vigil
Proper behavior in high school enables students to learn more.
Proper behavior in high school enables students to learn more.

Every society has expectations of behaviors that are essential for its people to function within it. Just as there are societal norms, there are behaviors that are necessary for teens to adhere to so that they can function and learn within their high school. The specific protocols differ by country, culture, religion and even from school-to-school. These variances notwithstanding, some rudimentary behaviors are considered appropriate for high school teens and, according to Responsive Classroom, increase academic achievement and improve social skills.


Respect is a fundamental cornerstone of all societies. It begins with the Golden Rule -- treat others as you would have them treat you -- and encompasses a broad array of consideration, tolerance and acceptance. Students should understand and be aware of what it means to respect others, including their property and feelings, as well as what it means to respect themselves by taking care of their belongings, wearing proper attire for the occasion and avoiding indecent acts. Respect includes not threatening, hitting or hurting anyone. It also means making eye contact when someone speaks and saying “please” and “thank you.” In order for respect to be integrated into an adolescent's being, it has to be modeled at home, in school and in all areas of life.


As teens get older, they gain increased rights and privileges along with increased responsibilities. High school students should have all the materials they need for each subject every day without expecting to borrow from others. This is part of planning ahead and self-discipline. One of the hardest behaviors for students is considering the consequences of their actions and being accountable for their words, actions and attitude. Another part of high school students’ responsibilities is to set a good example for others, especially younger students and siblings.


A reputation of integrity takes a lifetime to build and only a careless moment to destroy. It’s an attribute that will serve them well long after graduation. Honor, reliability and loyalty are keys to this behavior. Deception, stealing and cheating -- especially academic dishonestly -- have long-lasting consequences that affect their scholastic record, college and career. High school teens should be loyal, listen to their moral compass, stand up for family, friends and country, and strive to do the right thing.


First and foremost, teens should be compassionate with themselves. According to Live Science, self-compassion leads to greater resiliency, more energy, creativity and success in life. Once adolescents learn self-compassion, it is easier for them to transfer that kindness to others. Other aspects of compassionate behavior include gratitude, forgiveness and helping those in need.


Citizenship spans beyond the high school to society itself. Part of good citizenship is to follow the rules and laws of society and respect authority. It means not taking advantage of other people, being open-minded, and listening to others’ ideas and opinions. Students should get involved in their school and community and volunteer to improve both. Other ways to model good citizenship are to stay informed on civic activities and vote when old enough, protect the environment, and find peaceful resolutions to conflict and insults.

About the Author

Based in Las Vegas, Sandy Vigil has been a writer and educator since 1980. She taught high school and middle school English and drama for 11 years. Vigil holds a Master of Science in teaching from Nova Southeastern University and a Bachelor of Arts in secondary English education from the University of Central Oklahoma.