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The following excerpt was taken from http://www.focusonthefamily.com/

Training teens to work

Work can start early in life with simple daily tasks such as picking up toys and helping clear the table of dishes. That should grow into doing chores around the house: taking out the trash, making a bed, putting dirty clothes in the hamper, loading the dishwasher or helping fold the laundry. By the teen years, adolescents should be helping with yard work and assisting in preparing meals. (This reflects real life — you can do a task or pay someone to do it.)

Giving them a foundation

Our culture's misguided goal of giving children a "happy childhood" — mistakenly defined as having no responsibilities — has led us down the wrong path. For our teens to become functional working adults, they must learn three key concepts:

Work comes before play. Most adults, whether we work inside or outside the home, must complete certain daily responsibilities before we do things we want to do. This is a critical habit to teach teens as they mature — complete your chores before you play, finish your homework before you watch TV, mow the lawn before you go to a friend's house.

Demonstrated responsibility precedes earned privileges. Our culture tells kids: "When you are 16, you can drive;" and "When you are in middle school, you can go to the mall with your friends on your own." Inadvertently, our children are being taught that privileges are related to age or grade, so all you have to do is stay alive and you get more freedom.

But in the working world, increased privileges, such as working from home or supervising others, are earned through demonstrated ability and responsibility. So the message should be: "You can drive alone when I see you drive safely" and "You can go to the mall alone when you have demonstrated enough maturity."

Quality work matters. The goal of teens may be to complete tasks with the least amount of effort possible. But in the working world, the customer wants the job completed in a reasonable time frame and at an acceptable quality level (which is defined by the customer, not the teen).

As with other areas of life, teens learn best when we, as parents, do tasks with them, modeling and instructing along the way. Then we need to give them opportunities to practice working — at home, at church or in the community. Just telling them to "work hard" doesn't typically get it done.

What is a good work ethic? Supervisors and employers describe it as:

Showing up (regularly)

Arriving on time, ready to work

Listening to and following instructions

Staying on task

Putting forth consistent, good effort

Performing quality work (vs. "going through the motions")

Completing each task in a timely fashion

Paul White is a Christian psychologist who addresses work-related issues. Along with Gary Chapman, he has co-authored "The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace."

Kaye Frataccia is the program manager for Around the Table. This column solely represents the writer’s opinion.


Community Coordinator

Annette is Community Coordinator for The Times. She has been with the paper for two decades. A resident of Hobart, she graduated from Purdue University with degrees in English and German.