Teenagers are old enough to learn to behave properly in church. Providing them basic rules, rewards and consequences, a model of proper etiquette and a foundation of basic manners are all teaching tools at your disposal. Understanding your teenagers and working with them and their personalities is important as well.
Establish a Routine
Setting a routine for before, during and after church may help your teenagers maintain proper etiquette. Teach your teens that going to church is like going on a long car trip. They should hydrate and use the bathroom before services so that they don't have to get up and leave during them. If after-service fellowship is part of your family's church experience, make sure your teen knows to expect it every week.
Establish Basic Rules
Any teenager knows and understands that there are basic rules of etiquette for nearly any situation. Church is no exception. Don't assume that your teens know the behavior you expect. Talk to them about rules regulating the use of cell phones or MP3 players, sleeping in church, participating during the service, eating or drinking and talking. Acknowledge positive behavior as soon as church is over. Make sure your teenagers know the consequences of negative behavior and correct them when required quickly and calmly.
Be a Model and Know Your Child
One of the best ways to teach church etiquette to your teenagers is to model it for them. If you don't want your teenagers to take out their cell phones during services, leave yours at home, for instance. Show your teens by your own behavior how you expect them to conduct themselves. Remember, however, that your teens are individuals. If you know that sitting still for a long period of time is difficult for your teenagers, sit near the back of the church so that your children can leave quickly and quietly if necessary.
Not Just for Church
You will have better success at teaching your teenage children church etiquette if you expect good manners outside of church as well. Teach your children to greet people properly, introduce others, speak without interrupting, listen attentively and be sensitive to the needs of others. Teenagers are old enough to learn to host friends in their home, remember to leave gas in the family car, manage their own time and clean up after themselves. These skills will translate into proper church etiquette.
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