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Teaching Your Teen to Be a Great Employee

Once your teen has a job, there are several simple steps he can take to make sure he keeps it for as long as he wants it:

  • Always dress appropriately for the job.
  • Arrive on time.
  • Be respectful to employers, coworkers, and customers.
  • If he needs to call in sick or take time off, he should give as much advance notice as possible.
  • Work at assigned tasks cheerfully and willingly. (Many adults know how annoying it is to try to get service from a surly, bored, or monosyllabic employee.)
  • Take criticism and/or instruction with good will.
Info Flash

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 75 percent of Americans report that they don't like their jobs. That's why it's important to encourage your teen to explore many possibilities.

If your teen gets fired, talk to her about what happened. You may learn that it was nothing personal, the store just didn't need an extra clerk anymore.

But if you think that something your teen did caused her to lose the job—for example, if she was late for every shift—you may not find out from her. (She might say, “Oh, the boss was a jerk.”) In that case, you might discuss the punctuality issue. No sense harping on it; she'll learn as she suffers the consequences of lost income. (She'll learn her lesson best if you don't bail her out financially.) If your teen complains about her job, listen up. Teens are sometimes taken advantage of in the workplace. Here's what you can do:

  • Contact the superintendent's office in your school district or call your state labor department to get information on the laws governing the employment of minors. (Most states have a booklet about it.)
  • Visit your child's workplace from time to time. Sometimes teens are asked to do hazardous jobs—which are illegal for them to do.
  • If your teen has a personality conflict with a boss or coworker, discuss strategies: Can your teen switch to a different shift? Would apologizing (with or without cause) and offering to start out on a new foot win this person over?
  • Your teen should be told that there are two forms of sexual harassment. The first involves any situation where it is communicated (openly or implicitly) that sexual favors will be required if a person wants to keep a job or get a raise. The second form of harassment is when unwelcome or demeaning sexual comments are made, which creates a hostile work environment. Your teen shouldn't put up with either kind.

A worker of any age has the right to a decent work environment, and your teen should know that.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Parenting a Teenager © 1996 by Kate Kelly. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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