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Social Graces: What to Expect From Your High Schooler

Social Graces: What to Expect From Your High Schooler

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Updated on Jan 22, 2008

High school is the home stretch for parents. Your child is starting to take on all the things you tried to teach him over the years. While you're still his primary support system, your job now is less about raising him and more about stocking him up with the tools he'll need to cross that line into adulthood. One of the tools your child will have to start packing consistently is manners. Education and manners guru Cindy Post Senning said manners education should follow along with a child's development, and high school is no exception. So, what manners should be second nature to your high schooler? Post offers advice based on these five core manners topics:


Teach Values
: The value of education takes on a whole new meaning for your teen now that he is poised to use what he learned “in the real world.” While intellectually teens can understand why education is important to their future, they tend to function in the present tense. Post gives these parenting tips to help kids get the most out of their school experience:

  • Focus on effort, not grades
  • Respect and support your teen's goals, and show them how school studies relate to those goals
  • Watch out for signs of excessive pressure: choosing study over friends, getting unreasonably upset over a low grade, or loosing interest in academics.


Groom R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Respectful disagreement is an art form which takes self-control, top-notch listening skills, focus, consideration for the feelings of others, and the common sense to know when to quit. It's a tall order, and it starts with you. Post says modeling behavior for your teen is vital to developing manners. When you show them respect, even in the heat of an argument, they'll be more inclined to give you, and others, the same.

Work on Communication: Now that your child is starting to apply for summer jobs, college, special programs, etc.. writing thank you notes is an increasingly important habit to get into—it affirms a good impression, shows initiative, and is just good manners! Specific types of notes include follow-up notes for interviews, thank-you notes for gifts when the giver is not present, thank-you notes for special favors such as recommendations, notes on behalf of school and social organizations, and notes of appreciation for services, such as college placement. Post says one of the most important aspects of note-writing to instill in your child is timeliness—send them out as soon as possible after the event.

Encourage Table Manners: Now that your teen's social life is gaining sophistication, remind them of the finer points of being a good guest. Arrive on time, especially when dinner is involved. Post says that “Around six” means at six or a few minutes later. Say “hello” to parents and chaperons. Introduce yourself to guests you don't know. Be careful of property; this means wiping muddy shoes, using that coaster, and helping cleanup if something gets broken. Ask permission to use the host's telephone. Be conscious of noise levels. Finally, leave on time.

Get Out-and-About: At age 16, your child is legally and developmentally capable of holding down a job, albeit part-time and probably not that glamorous. Post says beware of your child's work schedule during the school year, citing a study that shows more than thirteen hours of work a week can adversely affect a teen's education and social relationships.  When your child gets a job, be sure to remind them of the fundamentals: attendance and punctuality, good grooming and cleanliness, appropriate attire, positive attitude, and adherence to rules.

Post says just because you can't coddle your child like you used to, your presence is still essential in the form of good modeling: be the person you want your child to be. The results might surprise you.

 

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