The end of the school term is quickly approaching in some regions while other places already have had children and youth home for the past month. This time of year can be angst-filled especially if you have teens who would prefer not to rise before 1:00 pm every day. Yet you know sleeping away the summer probably won’t be formative towards their maturing into adulthood. Heck, you’d even just like them to be reasonably sociable with the family during daylight hours!! Have you considered encouraging them to volunteer or even to sport an entrepreneurial idea of service in the neighborhood?

Some key benefits for the youth will pay in spades for their future. With the increase of screen time, there is a serious concern that young people won’t be able to communicate effectively face to face. In the not so distant past, teens would come to the house and greet the parents. Then hang out with friends in the backyard or play ball at the school playground. Nowadays, most of the time is actually spent being “sociable” on social media platforms or constant texting with virtual friends. There’s very little honest to goodness face to face anymore. It’s really quite frightening!!

An antidote to this challenging situation are summer jobs including volunteering!! In the 1980s, 70% of teens (age 16 to 19) had summer jobs. This number has declined yearly and in 2010 it reached 43% and has stayed about the same since (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Summer employment means that youth and adults are interacting together. These early working experiences prepare youth for being adept at communicating with people of all ages. This is a key skill that many hiring managers see very little of in the under 30 yr old set of new hires.

A partial list of summer work examples could include:

  • Babysitting
  • Coffee shop
  • Volunteer at a camp
  • Dog walking
  • Helping seniors at retirement homes with their computers

Granted, this age group of 13-15 yrs old may have more difficulty in finding paid employment. With a little ingenuity, they could find odd jobs at home or for family friends and relatives.

Now that some time will be set aside for these activities each day, it’s a good idea to role-play through the basic pointers of meeting new people that is getting lost because of those pesky gadgets.

Master the handshake…

  • Stand up
  • Eye contact
  • Smile
  • Shake hands by reaching for the web of the other person’s hand, gently squeeze
  • Say “Hello, my name is Susan” the respond with “Very nice to meet you, Kyle”

Art of conversation

This can be difficult because of a natural shyness. Teach them to realize that every conversation that they have with someone (especially an adult) is a connection with another human being. This is very enriching.

  • Have a list of conversation starters according to the age of the person – for instance, movies; books; summer holiday plans;
  • “Who; What; Where; When; How” questions are good standbys
  • Eye contact is crucial
  • Develop those listening skills – lean in; nod; smile…be interested in what the other person is saying

Polite Cellphone Manners

The cell phone should be out of sight when talking to an adult especially if that adult is a parent of the child(ren) one is babysitting.

  • Obey the 10 foot rule – refrain from talking on the phone if there is another person within earshot
  • Silent at the library; movies; live theatre; religious services
  • Never answer a text when talking to another person in front of you
  • Be master of the phone instead of the other way round. Try not touching the phone for 20 minutes, then one hour…maybe even the whole day


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