3 Ways to Support Your Teen In Their First Job

You helped them learn to walk, ride their bikes, become good sports and confident students. Now you have a whole new challenge on your hands, helping your teen acclimate to his or her first job.

Accepting a role in the workforce is an important step for a young person. Working will give your teen a chance to earn and save her/his own money, and it will introduce her/him to completely new situations that demands an increased degree of responsibility.  

While this will sometimes be stressful for your teen, it will also be great preparation for the challenges of college and future employment.  Although you’ve had a more direct role in your teen’s activities in the past, this is an area where your daughter or son has to absorb the responsibility. If s/he is sick and has to call in, that responsibility is on her/his shoulders alone. If your teen has to field an irate customer’s complaints, that unpleasant task is hers/his to manage (and hopefully s/he has a good supervisor who is right there to help).

Because your involvement is limited to acting as a guide and sounding board (and probably a ride), coupled with the fact that your teen will be generating income, this is a particularly important right of passage for your teen. Here are three ways you can help from the sidelines.

Find the right fit

Talk with your teen about what s/he would like to do, and help her/him find a job that maximizes her/his comfort and skills. In order to be successful, your teen has to be working someplace that s/he feels comfortable.

Simply Hired has plenty of jobs posts in retail; child, pet or older adult care; restaurant work; as well as other jobs such as libraries, fast food restaurants, etc. Talk with your teen about what s/he can picture doing and then work together to find the right opportunity.

Help your teen anticipate what to expect

Your teen is developing a sense of professionalism, and s/he is going to need your help with that. There are certain aspects of this which are going to be no brainers to instill–clearly s/he has to be dependable and always report on time, in uniform, etc. Undoubtedly, s/he has to follow the manager’s directions, be polite to customers and do the work the job requires.  

But there are other aspects of the job that your teen will need your help with–like how to say “no” if s/he is asked to work more hours than is manageable. Your teen isn’t used to interacting with adults as peers, and s/he is going to need your advice for how to be respectful but at the time time be firm about boundaries.

Help your teen identify deal breakers

Impatient customers, demanding supervisors and difficult coworkers all come with the territory. Your teen will need to learn how to gracefully handle these challenges in order to do her or his job well.

But there are somethings that your teen needs to know that s/he doesn’t have to put up with at work. S/he doesn’t have to put up with bullying, belittling, or offensive treatment. S/he doesn’t have to put up with sexual harassment, illegal discrimination, or unwanted advances or attention. Your teen doesn’t have to stay at a job where s/he feels uncomfortable.

It’s important to make that clear to your daughter or son, because this experience involves some new dynamics that are not intuitive to young workers.

Although your teen is going to exercise a lot of autonomy in this new role, s/he also needs your support and your guidance. Like so many other “firsts” the trick is to be carefully watching without looking like you’re watching. So make sure to set your teen up for success and then keep the lines of communication open.