Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Bright Sparks

Published:Tuesday | March 8, 2016 | 3:00 AM

Being a teenager has never been easy, but that's a fact that many of us forget after we become adults. Most teens are adult size, but they still haven't mastered adult skills.

Parents can help their teenagers by listening and answering questions as they arise and without being judgemental. Sometimes the questions may seem basic to the adult, but to a teen, it can make a huge difference in whatever issues he or she is facing.

A teenager's social life is extremely important because fitting in with peers can make the difference between feeling confident and being one of those people who struggles to fit in. Learning proper etiquette gives teens the skills that will be useful at the moment as well as later in life.

PROVIDE GUIDANCE

As a parent, you want to provide guidance about basic etiquette to your children as they grow, as well as teach them how to treat others respectfully. Basic etiquette includes table manners, phone etiquette, greeting others, thanking people for gifts, and computer etiquette. Even a young child can understand simple table manners like placing a napkin in his lap, talking politely, and eating neatly.

By adolescence, your children should practise cell phone etiquette, which includes setting a cell phone to vibrate when in public or with others and conducting both texting and voice conversations in private. Ensure that your teens understand that properly greeting someone includes smiling, making eye contact, and shaking hands.

Explain that proper gift etiquette involves writing and sending thank-you notes promptly when someone sends a gift. Also explain that computer etiquette includes communicating respectfully with others despite the lack of face-to-face contact. Demonstrate proper etiquette and respectful behaviour for your teens in daily life to help them learn from your example.

If a teenager lacks an understanding of basic etiquette, he might feel uncomfortable in social situations. With this discomfort, the adolescent might experience embarrassment or timidity that puts him at a disadvantage. It's also possible that a teen could attempt to compensate for his discomfort by acting out in inappropriate or offensive ways.

Strength and Confidence

With a solid foundation in etiquette and manners, a teen should feel strong and confident even in new or unfamiliar situations. This can be particularly important for adolescents who often feel self-conscious and anxious. When a teen has strong social skills and understands how to treat others respectfully and politely, he can navigate virtually anything - from a college or job interview, to a conversation with a teacher, to meeting a new girlfriend's father.

The basic principle for raising a thoughtful, courteous child is easy to remember. consider The Golden Rule of Parenting: Always be the person you want your child to be. So, if you want your kids to be respectful, considerate and honest, be respectful, considerate, and honest yourself. Observing this golden rule every day is the simplest way to incorporate manners into your family life.

If children do not learn common courtesies prior to being a teenager, then it becomes increasingly difficult as they grow older.

n Michelle Parkes is a certified

etiquette consultant. She can

be reached at bright.sparkes