Well-Mannered Teen Rebels

With the decline of civility and manners in public life, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that so many young people lack basic manners.  There are other factors, of course, such as the breakdown of the family unit and the lack of privacy and decorum in the media.  There is much to be said about how bad it is and what has caused the lack of decency and manners, but I want to offer a positive perspective for those who care to train kids to be polite.

Kids with manners will stand out as all-stars, like never before. It is simply amazing to see how kids with good manners are rewarded for being counter-cultural.teenboy

A friend of mine needed some help moving into his new home.  He said, “I had two students from a huge public high school help me move this summer. I was a little leery when I learned that they were two of the top athletes in the school.  They had better manners than just about any high school kid I’d ever met. I asked them about it and they essentially said that interacting with adults the way that the majority of their peers made them just look like everybody else. They said they could have gotten a tattoo to be different the same way as everyone around them. Or, they could do something really different and simply go through life saying ‘please, thank you, yes sir and no ma’am.’ I paid them double what I said I would.”

Let’s help kids get this sort of edge on the competition.  That means we have to model good manners, explain why it’s helpful, show them how to do it, correct them gently, and thank them for the times they get it right.  It will pay big dividends for them for the rest of their lives.  Good manners will yield success for young people in some surprising ways.

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LINKS to specifics lists of good manners:

http://www.wikihow.com/Have-Good-Manners

http://www.rd.com/living-healthy/good-manners/article27599.html

http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetailsKids.aspx?p=335&id=2526&np=287

Author: Andy Kerckhoff

I'm a husband, father, teacher. I'm doing my best, wishing I could do better, and trying to help others to effectively lead kids through early adolescence.

3 thoughts on “Well-Mannered Teen Rebels”

  1. I have never thought about how manners could help our kids stand out.
    But in today’s world this would be true. I am amazed at how many adults will not let you in a line of traffic, or if you let them in, there is no wave of thanks.
    Can you get a scholarship to college for good manners? You can for academics and sports. But of course that is where the empasis is today, scores and activities.

    It is going to be interesting to see what civility is like in 20 years. Teaching of Manners takes time, and many just don’t see it as a priority.

    Thanks for your commitment to your blog.

  2. Teaching of manners can take YEARS but the payoff is amazing. I remember the first time my son shook someone’s hand properly. It was the best reward ever. He looked the man in the eye, said “Hi nice to meet you” without mumbling and loud enough to be heard. Then he shook his hand (firmly I hope b/c that is very important!) and even leaned forward toward the person. All of these things had to be taught many times. I think that it’s perfectly normal for this to take time and it comes easier for some kids depending on personality. Patience and persisitence is key. Now if I can just get him to start using utensils instead of his hands when he eats and a napkin instead of his sleeve! 🙂

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