Raising respectful teens

In this post I’m going to talk about some ideas for parents to teach their kids and teens how to be polite, helpful and respectful. This isn’t an attempt to complain or call parents out on their kids rude behaviors. In fact, I’ve met some unbelievably courteous, polite and genuinely kind teens who would go out of their way to help others. I’m constantly amazed and impressed how older siblings care for their special needs sibling. It’s truly beautiful.

These are just some ideas that some parents may or may not be regularly thinking about in their day to day lives. Today, teens are so independent and parents are so busy that I think not as much time is spent together as in the past (or at least when I was growing up). It’s all food for thought, from a pediatric home health nursing perspective, because I honestly believe some kids just don’t know certain etiquettes. I’m not a parenting expert and do not pretend to be. I just enjoy contributing something that could possibly make the world just a little bit brighter. 🙂

Call me old fashioned but I believe manners and kindness will always be in style.

Let’s jump in!

Cellphones: We all use them. Most people are used to them and not easily offended but there are some instances where some manners should take place. It is impolite to be looking at the phone when one is having a conversation with someone in real life. Cellphones should be turned off before movies and performances. When calling someone, always ask if it’s a good time to talk. They should let someone know if they are on speaker. When speaking on the phone in public, they should use their “inside voice.” Better yet, avoid it. Take the conversation somewhere private.

Basic manners: Obviously, Please, thank you, you’re welcome and excuse me will never go out of style. Holding the door open for the next person is common courtesy. A hand written thank you note may be old fashioned these days but when given a gift or treated to something special, at the very least, teens should know to send a thank you email even if they’ve thanked them in person. If it’s a formal occasion a written thank you is a must in my book.

Social Media: Teach kids not to rant, complain or comment negatively on other’s posts. No racy photos.

Texting: Avoid texting groups of people. Don’t use all caps. Teens are probably pretty aware of these since texting is so common. One point to make is to not text things that are private. Putting private things in emails and texts just isn’t a good idea.

Email: Names should be spelled correctly. They should use an opener, even something as simple as “hi” and a closer. Avoid mass emailing. Also avoid using the “reply all” feature. Again, they shouldn’t be emailing anything personal that could possibly get around or be used against them. When emailing an adult for school or work, they should be using full words, not text lingo. Don’t over do it with emojis in emails.

Coughing/Sneezing: Teach kids to cover their cough. They should use a tissue to cover their mouth and nose when they cough or sneeze. If they don’t have a tissue, they should cough into the crook of their arm. They should be blowing their noses in private if possible. They should only be using a tissue once then promptly throwing it away and washing their hands.

Picking up after themselves: Even younger kids should know to pick up after themselves and clean up their toys when they are done playing. Teens should be throwing away their garbage and tidying their own areas without having to be told multiple times. They are old enough to take some responsibility.

Gossiping: They just shouldn’t participate in it. People will stop coming to them with it if they don’t respond. Teach teens that gossiping is hurtful and rude. They wouldn’t like it if someone were gossiping about them. If you hear it, put an end to it.

Complaining: They don’t want to be known as the drama queen of the group. It’s not cute. Teens who are drama queens become adults who are drama queens. It’s not going to go over well once they get a job. As a side note, I recall one coworker (nurse) who complained as soon as he came into work and saw his assignment of patients every single day. What a negative and annoying way to start the day.

Secrets: If they’ve been privy to someone’s personal information they should not share it with anyone ever unless that person is about to harm themselves or someone else.

Work place: If they work, there should be no profanity. They should respect others roles, privacy and space. If they are unsure whose job it is to do a certain task, they should ask management before asking another employee to do something. They should always be punctual and dress accordingly. Even if they work somewhere casual, there is still a basic protocol for what one should and shouldn’t wear. Makeup should be kept to a “day” look. No heavy perfumes or colognes.

My husband is a high school teacher. I work with kids as a pediatric home health nurse. Often my patients have older siblings. My husband and I sometimes find ourselves talking about kids not knowing basic manners and wonder if they act the same at home.

We talk about how manners start at home. However, I have had instances where I’ve been working in someone’s home where a young teen will be on their best behavior when the parents are home then all hell breaks lose when the parents leave the house.

I wonder if parents are aware of how their tweens and teens act when they aren’t around.

Parents, do you know how your children act when you’re not around?

How can you find out? Can you talk to parents of their friends to make sure they had good behavior at their friend’s house?

During parent-teacher conferences, can you ask the teacher about your child’s behavior and attitude? Are they using their manners? Are they helpful and courteous?

I asked my husband who has been teaching for 20 years and found out this is not a usual question that comes up from parents. Instead, my husband has to bring up behavior to the parents.

My husband and I both love working with kids. We both understand the challenges many parents face as either being a single parent or both parents working full time. We also understand child development and the stages that kids go through. Some of their behavior can be attributed to that and we know kids will be kids. However, I think we have a different perspective because we are able to see how kids act when their parents aren’t present. That’s why I wanted to bring this to light. You don’t know what you don’t know.

I hope this gave you some food for thought. Please comment below on some other ways you’ve taught your kids to be respectful and kind.

Is this something that has been a parenting challenge for you during your kid’s tween and early teens years?

What measures have you taken to try to get them on the right track, if they are not?

Thank you for reading along.

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