Whether you're tired of never seeing your teen's face because she's constantly texting on her cell phone or you simply want her to refine her social graces before her upcoming dance, etiquette classes can reinforce -- or in some cases teach for the first time -- the basic principles of proper social behavior. Even if you yourself are an etiquette pro, enrolling your teen in a class can help her learn these important life skills without the added power struggle that sometimes occurs when parents nag teens about manners.
Most, but not all, teen etiquette classes adopt a modernized approach to classic social graces and manners. Good table manners and dining are almost always included in the curriculum, as are properly introducing and meeting individuals of all ages. When and how to appropriately and respectfully use one's cell phone is always a hot topic for teen instructions. Topics such as writing thank you notes, gracious hosting and being a respectful guest may also be covered. For older teens, many etiquette classes also focus on correct manners and etiquette for college visits and interviews.
Though many of the topics covered may overlap, not all teen etiquette classes have the same focus. In reading the descriptions of different classes, you'll notice some clearly have a more formal, upscale approach to the manners, focusing not only on introductions and utensil use, but also ballroom dancing, curtsying and interacting with high-profile members of government. More comprehensive or accessible classes may focus on manners that all teens, regardless of their background, will need to use in daily life.
Classes can range from two or three 45-minute sessions to six one-hour weekly classes. If your teen has a busy schedule, she may be less interested in something that requires a month-long commitment. On the flip side, however, longer courses typically cover a more comprehensive range of topics while shorter sessions focus on the basics such as dining, introductions and technology. Many classes include interactive exercises and role playing, while others involve field trips to restaurants and other public settings.
Like most learning endeavors, the teacher makes a difference. If your teen is already reluctant to attend etiquette classes, the course taught by someone his grandmother's age in a rose-bud spray living room may not resonate very well. On the other hand, a course taught by someone who's relatively young and presents themselves as interested in truly helping teens succeed in future relationships and professional interactions -- not just in correcting poor posture -- can make more of an impact. Research the class beforehand or ask for recommendations on instructors.
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