Social Graces

Social graces bring confidence. Often children are unsure as to how to behave in a particular social situation,and this makes them uneasy, causing them to lose confidence. Kids can get away with running around the place, but teenagers tend to feel awkward. They frequently wait for a cue from their parents as to how to behave, and if that cue doesn't come, they waver around uncertainly, not sure what to do next. Make sure you instill certain graces in your child, so he doesn't have to wait for that cue. 

Social Graces

Mallika, a teenager I know, went up to Vikas, another teenager she had met once before, and said hello. Instead of responding in kind, he looked at her blankly and said 'Er… who are you?' She re-introduced herself, spoke for a minute and walked on, but not without feeling slightly insulted. 

Teach your son that if someone he does not recognize comes up and says hi, instead of cheekily declaring 'who are you?' he should smile back in acknowledgement, and try and figure out who the person is during the conversation. Or he could politely state, "You look so familiar, but I just cannot seem to place you." The same rule, of course, does not apply to teenage girls, who are often approached by random boys. In any case, being polite has never hurt anyone. 

Your friends drop in for a cup of tea when your children are lounging around watching MTV. Make sure they stand up and greet the guests. A causal wave or nod of acknowledgement is not enough, unless, of course, the guest is practically a family member.Even so, practice makes perfect, and the more often your child gets up to greet guests, the more naturally and easier it will come to him. 

If you are out for dinner at a restaurant, and are waiting for guests to join you, your children, along with the father, should stand up as the guests approach your table. The lady may remain seated. 

Teach your children basic table manners.

If guests come over and your children are in their room, it is always nice if they can come out and say hi. If they are not suitably attired and are loath to change their clothes, you could excuse them, but if it is a family member who would be pleased to meet the kids, they should definitely come out and greet them. 

If guests stop by when you are not at home, your teenager should invite them in, offer them something to drink and sit with them until they leave. (Only if your teenager knows who they are. It is understandable if your teenager doesn't invite strangers when he or she is alone at home. It is important for them to use their discretion here. Younger children should never answer the door.) 

Teach your children to offer to carry anything heavy and weighty, and to help you carry stuff to and fro. This does not mean that you sound them off for not offering to carry that light-as-a-feather plastic bag. They are not coolies. There is nothing more annoying than mothers goading their children on to 'help' a relative carry something no heavier than an envelope, just so she can feel proud to have such thoughtful children. But if you or any elder is carrying an assortment of packages, or something weighty or uncomfortable, your child should rush forward to help. 

Teach your son to:
  • Open the entrance door for women
  • Open the car door for women
  • Stand aside and wait for women to exit the elevator before he does
  • Wait for the ladies to sit down first
  • Stand up when being introduced
  • Apologize for swearing in front of elders or women

And most importantly, teach your teenagers to be friendly. It is not 'cool' to be standoffish. It is far cooler to be a well-mannered, confident and warm person.