Today more than ever, good manners are essential to professional success. Teach your teens the art of respect for others.
Respect is the foundation on which all healthy relationships should be built. From self-respect to respect for others, putting another person's needs ahead of their own is a productive first step for public behavior that can prepare teens for adulthood.
If your teen could use a few lessons in developing a respectful attitude, the following suggestions may help.
1. Start while they're young. Set clear boundaries for preschoolers and elementary-age children. By the time they're teens, they will be well grounded in observing boundaries and borders, which are building blocks of respect. Teach kids not to touch things that aren't theirs and to care for the things they do own, from clothes to toys and everything in between. This goes for the possessions of other family members as well as other people's belongings.
2. Teach self-respect. Appearance, performance, and relationships are some of the ways in which teens can learn to have respect for themselves. A tidy, well groomed look may earn appreciation from others, while neatly completed schoolwork should receive high marks from teachers. In friendships or dating relationships, teenagers should expect to set boundaries for themselves and respect the limits of others, from telephone curfews to dating proprieties and job responsibilities.
3. Be a firm disciplinarian. Balancing punishment with rewards, emphasize to your children what you expect from them in terms of communication, household chores, and school work. Put it in writing when possible, and post on the refrigerator or in the teen's room as a helpful rather than critical reminder. Maintain healthy boundaries by monitoring your child's exposure to inappropriate music, television, and film as well as friendships that may prove unwholesome. Discipline consistently and firmly, albeit fairly. Kids will learn that you mean business and to expect fair play, which teaches them to respond to others in kind.
4. Provide guidelines for family and social relationships. Outline appropriate language toward others, excluding the use of profanity, name-calling, or teasing. Recommend touching limits, such as no hitting or pushing of siblings and no intimate touching on dates. Insist that teens abide by curfews and household rules, with automatic consequences when they fail to do so.
5. Model respectful behavior. The way that parents talk to and about others will set the tone for their children's respect, or lack of, toward other people. Avoid gossip, criticism, yelling, coldness, or other inappropriate responses to relationships. Instead, set a good example for your teens to follow. Studies show that despite peer pressure, teens are influenced even more by their parents, perhaps unconsciously.
As kids grow into teenagers and move toward maturity, it is natural for them to test boundaries and lose control now and then. Be prepared to supervise your teen's behavior and expect that he or she will respect the rights, property, and person-hood of other people. Follow up with consequences when they do not. Most teens respond well to realistic training of this nature, and will follow in their parents' footsteps in the way they relate to other people.