Eventually, kids either want or have to start earning additional money outside of the home.
In the United States, this is usually when they are somewhere between the ages of 15 and 18 years old.
A number of strategies can prepare your child to enter the workforce and get their first job.
- Be firm about rules at home and enforce consistent, clear consequences.
Although your child hopefully will be in a supportive environment in his first workplace, his boss still is going to expect him to follow specific protocols, meet deadlines and work collaboratively. Failure to adhere to guidelines or directions can mean reprimands, loss of a good reference or even being let go, so don’t shy away from enforcing rules for chores, curfew, driving and general manners.
- Provide more opportunities to help out around the house or assist others.
Letting your child be a helper around your place, for neighbors or in other environments such as charities lets him see what it feels like to be more responsible and accomplish more advanced or independent goals. Employers also will want your child to “manage upward,” which basically means they’d like him to go above and beyond to support his team and superiors—that requires seeing where he can reach out.
- Budget and pay bills together.
Kids who are getting into the workforce often have a somewhat skewed perception of just how expensive daily living can be, in part because parents often foot the bill for so much of what they need. By budgeting and paying bills with your child, you’ll not only teach him the processes for those tasks, normalizing them in the context of regular paychecks, but also open his eyes about how much he’s really going to need when he’s completely on his own.
- Allow them to handle problems/conflicts on their own.
It’s a natural instinct for parents and caregivers to want to step in and defend and offer assistance to their children when problems arise. In the workplace, however, you’re not going to be there to do this, and your child will need to problem solve on his own and handle his own conflicts. This doesn’t mean you can’t offer advice, as you’ve got years of experience that are valuable. It just means that, at the end of the day, your child has to call some of his own shots.
- Help them get used to formal attire.
Although some kids have to deal with formal uniforms for school, many don’t. Subsequently, your child might not realize why companies have dress codes and expect a more polished look. Have them put on something nicer for church services or for volunteering, and go out to eat once in a while in business-appropriate outfits. Family get-togethers and similar events are also opportunities to break out the higher-quality clothes. People likely will compliment your child on his appearance through this process, which will boost his confidence.
- Have them make a list of their strengths and weaknesses.
Having your child develop a list of what he’s good or bad at familiarizes him with the sort of jobs or tasks he’ll be comfortable with, giving him a sense of what his skill set is worth. It prepares him for regular performance reviews, as well. His boss will expect him to improve over time in areas that lag a bit. The ability to self-critique also will come in handy when your child is trying to determine whether he could give more to a particular project or duty.
- Have them make a list of short and long-term goals.
Interviewers inevitably will ask your child questions such as “Why do you want to work for us?”, “Where do you see yourself in x years?” and “What do you feel you can contribute to our company?” A list of objectives enables your child to talk in future-oriented, mutually beneficial terms with prospective employers, forcing him to think about where he fits in the business and where the work could take him.
Entering the workforce is a huge step toward adulthood independence for your children. It opens up a wide range of financial opportunities and freedoms, so anything you can do to prepare your child for the transition is a good thing. These tips are just some of the ways you can guide your child toward success.