Training Teens to be Civil in an Uncivil World

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Training Teens to be Civil in an Uncivil World. This post is running concurrently on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

Training Teens to be Civil in an Uncivil World. Help your teen learn to be kind and respectful in a culture that needs the fruit of the Spirit. #HomeschoolHighSchoolPodcast #SocialSkillsForTeens #TrainingTeensToBeCivil #LifePreparation

Training Teens to be Civil in an Uncivil World

Join Sabrina, Kym and Vicki for an important discussion about civility. Our world is increasingly unkind and uncivil. Teens are surrounded by political figures on the news who are crude, rude and unkind. Social media is full of ugly, unkind behavior. Civility seems to be going out of style.

This is so contradictory to the love of Christ and the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control. There is no room for unkindness there. If we are wise, we will train our teens to be civil in this uncivil world.

What is the difference between kindness, niceness and civility?

  • Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit. The fruit grows in us as we grow in the Lord. It is a spiritual outgrowth of our love for God.
  • Niceness can be not-good. When someone acts *nice* but is actually a manipulative trickster who is trying to get you to do something you do not want to do.
    • So-called *nice people* can include abusive or manipulative friends, family or others (who always do what you want, until they explode).
  • Civil behavior, on the other hand,  is very intentionally good and wants what is best for the other.
    • Civility is not necessarily a natural process.
    • Civility has to be trained into our teens.

Why do we care that the world is an uncivil place?

  • Because we are all broken, so we can have compassion on other broken people.
  • When we operate in incivility we tend to emotionally eat each other up.
    • Remember the book Millions of Cats?
    • A peasant with a million cats found that they were a cranky and jealous bunch who got into such a big fight that they ate each other up. Here’s a video of that classic book.
  • We humans tend to take differences and make them a thing of hatred.

What are steps we can use to train our teens to be civil?

Remember: Hurt people hurt people.

  • The first thing you can do when you are about to fight back is to stop long enough to remember that this is a broken person who is acting out of that brokenness. This gives you a chance to calm down.
    • When you are suddenly angry or afraid, neural cortisol floods your brain for six seconds preparing you for fight, flight or freeze.
    • If you wait ten seconds, the cortisol flood will pass on by.
    • If you breathe during that ten seconds, it is even better.
  • Remember when your parents taught you to stop and count to ten? They were right!
  • Beware: The social media negativity feeding frenzy in this dog-eat-dog world.
  • Teach: your teens to ask themselves is there something they can feed themselves with, instead of negativity?
  • Draw emotional sustenance from:
  • Remembering: We are friends together
    • What are our good memories?
    • What are our common goals?
  • In the big picture we are actually on the same page, we are not actually on different teams after all, really.

Do not attack the person. Wrestle with the concept or idea but not the person.

  • Avoid ad hominem attacks. (Attacks on the person to deflect poor skills.)
  • Beware of HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.
    • Nothing good can come of your communication if you are in HALT.
    • Take care of these needs and then come back to the issue.
  • Look to your deportment.
    • Look to how you are carrying yourself.
    • If you are about to snap, flatten yourself (take a breath, flatten your facial expressions).
    • Walk away before you hit send or enter. Do not type your angry comment in the comments, type it onto blank document.

Teens who learn to be civil are showing Christlike character. #HomeschoolHighSchoolPodcast #Civility #SocialSkillsForTeens #HowToBeKind

How often do you mishear the meaning when a speaker is needed?

  • We sometimes misunderstand non-verbals.
    • Tone of voice
    • The body language
    • Do reflective listening:
  • Ask: Am I understanding what you are saying: repeat what you think you heard, non-judgmentally.
    • They can answer with a tweak of information so that you both are on the same page.

Teens do not come to these skills on their own. They need parents to:

  • Role model
  • Teach teens
  • Help them practice

There’s not ONE right way to do most of life. Do not judge others. Monitor your own self and emotions.

  • When someone hurts us, they have been listening to some other hurtful voices.
    • We can ask what hurtful voices they were listening to.
  • In the same token, what hurtful voices are we listening to.
    • Sit down with your teens and have some conversations about civility.
  • These conversations with your teens will train teens to be civil in an uncivil world.

Join Sabrina, Vicki and Kym for this fun and inspirational discussion.

While you are investing in your teens’ soft skills, here are some more resources:


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Training Teens to be Civil in an Uncivil World


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Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

2 Replies to “Training Teens to be Civil in an Uncivil World”

  1. I love that you distinguish between nice and people who fake being nice. That’s hard for all of us to learn! Thank you for great tips. I know I will be sharing this with my teen!

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