The strength of tomorrow's workers depends on parents today.
Get a Job, Kid!
Family togetherness is a wonderful thing, until your thirty-year old starts sending drink orders from the basement and commenting at breakfast that it "sure would be nice" if you’d remember to use fabric softener on his t-shirts. Toddlers make for cute anecdotes. An unshaved genius with great potential but no real direction except for the path to your refrigerator makes for awkward moments at neighborhood parties.
So, start now. Potential is but an outline for your child’s future. Fill it in with the life skills that will help him or her stretch and grow and – get a job!
This is not an enjoinder to build human pyramids in the backyard (although you might finally discover the source of all those strange noises over the privacy fence). No, I’m talking about a "rah rah" attitude, a spirit of encouragement and a positive energy.
Can your son celebrate his sister's academic success without resorting to petty jealousy? And, when he strikes out in the ninth inning, does his sister provide encouragement or, instead, a great imitation of the whiff made by his wayward swing? Effective leaders know how to encourage and motivate others.
Does he tackle schoolwork in an effective way? Or is it more of a meander into this excuse or that distraction? Is she able to listen when your mouth is moving or is that the moment her brain launches into alternate mental airspace? Sure, he can find his target in a video game. But how well does he spot his path through a project?
Help your child focus on present tasks with gentle yet firm redirects. Set achievable timed goals and expand these as discipline grows. Teach good eye contact and active listening during conversations. Don’t let your son be that guy who gets lost in a cubicle on the way to the printer, or constantly gets in trouble for playing Angry Birds during meetings.
Sitting shotgun in the car to get away from siblings? A basketball game with dad? What motivates your child isn’t as important as her ability to be motivated. Can the internal throttle be nudged from idle into first gear and beyond?
Desire needs the spark of motivation to become a pursuable passion. What generates the heat force in your kid? Is it cold cash? The thrill of creativity? Or maybe a relational reward? Facilitate the sparking process with child specific motivators. Learning self-motivation now will help your kid row his own boat as an adult.
Your kid's passive drifting in favorable currents like a guppy could lead to a prolonged stay at the bottom of the career ladder as an adult.
8. Flexibility & Resiliency
Does a rainout dampen a whole day? Or can your kid see the entertainment possibilities in a mud puddle? Of course Life isn’t fair! He should have been safe at home, and she would have made a great class president. So, tell me about Plans B, C and D.
If defeat is viewed as a roadblock, help your child develop a vision for the detour. Failure is information, not a personal definition. Helping your son adjust and rebound from the slings and arrows of childhood will enable him to use "no" as his push-off to better opportunities as an adult.
After all, Michael Jordan was cut from his varsity basketball team and that worked out pretty well.
7. Sense of Self
He’s a blanket-wearing superhero today and star athlete the next. Isn’t your husband just the cutest? Yeah, that was a joke. And the blanket is fine as long as he doesn’t depend on it for transportation. But how about your kid? Fantasy is important to development but should ultimately provide clues to the very real person inside that freckled wanna-be rockstar.
Can she plainly cite her strengths and weaknesses? Can he confidently share opinions and suggestions? Knowing and accepting himself as a child will grow your son into a poised and self-assured adult. Hmm...sounds like a great candidate for that sales position.
6. Curiosity & Lifelong Learning
When no one in the room knows the height of the tallest mountain on Mars, does your son sneak off to Google the answer? How cool! Do you realize how many will just shrug a shoulder and check the TV listings instead?
Curiosity is the channel-changer, the life-launcher, the genius spark that expands horizons. Nurture it. Aid and abet your child in finding answers to momentary mysteries. Why care about the actual copper content in a penny? Because your kid does. Pennies today; particle accelerators tomorrow.
Whatever will you wear to the Nobel Prize Award ceremony?
5. Personal Accountability
Does she floss? How do you know the answer to this question? Is it because her dentist profusely compliments her hygiene habits or because you grimly stand in the doorway raising an eyebrow until you observe her going through the motions before you step in and help her?
Personal accountability will manifest as consistent and timely attention to one’s duties and responsibilities. It includes adult choices to floss, eat healthy, and to sweep out the garage before footprints are evident in the debris. Your kid’s future hiring prospects will be greater if his productivity doesn’t hinge on the presence of a hallway monitor.
When offered a suggestion, is your child open to learning? Or does he give you the verbal equivalent of sticking fingers in his ears: "I know, Mom!"
"I know" can demonstrate confidence. More often, however, it displays an aversion to correction and new ideas. Kind of like the guy whose career is in a freefall because he insists the Internet is "just a fad." Or the woman passed over for promotion because her strong self-confidence doesn’t include accepting her boss’s coaching.
Demonstrate your own ability to learn and grow. Admit knowledge gaps and seek to fill them. A parent open to new information grows coachable children.
Can your child handle the unexpected? Can she solve problems (i.e. We’re out of 2%, so I’ll pour chocolate milk on my cereal)? Or is it, "Mom, my pencil broke!" Or "Dad, the lawn mower is blocking my bike in the garage!" These children grow up wondering where clients come from (wishing for storks, no doubt) and unable to generate their own leads. Their first response to a pre-meeting catering crisis is to 911 the boss.
Let your child know you trust her to solve basic problems. Praise her efforts (Great save on the breakfast, honey!), and watch her learn to trust herself.
Do challenges compel or repel? Is your child able to push through a crowded field and aim for a chosen goal? Can he audition, try out for a sport or enter a contest?
A solid self-esteem is essential to a productive career because a healthy competitive spirit breeds success. Encourage effort whether chasing down a ball in the outfield or when they're cleaning their rooms (Good luck with that one). Equip him or her to compete for promotions and projects. On your mark, get set, go get that job!
Do you often feed your dog just in case your kid forgot again? Or do you live in mess-free confidence knowing Fido will be let out to fertilize the lawn as needed?
Employers don’t look kindly on employees who may or may not complete projects as promised. They generally end up giving those employees all the time in the world. With no projects or pay. Begin now to raise a dependable future adult. Value their word and let them know you expect them to keep it. Remind your child responsibilities are a delegation of trust, and that being in charge of gathering the trash on a weekly basis is quite the compliment.
Good Kids Make Good Workers
Would you honestly hire your son? Could you recommend your daughter in good faith? He may be on the family payroll for summer mowing, and your daughter may be sharp, funny and an excellent cookie baker, but look to the future. Soon he’ll need more income than weekly yard care provides and she might be able to start her own cookie business.
Your future empty nest will be a testament to passionate parenting and evidence of well-equipped kids grown into responsible, employable adults who positively contribute to the workforce.