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On the one hand, kids are constantly being told how important it is to stay in school, get a good education and graduate with skills that will help them get a good job someday.

On the other hand, the media is filled with bad news, sad stories and horrible statistics related to the high drop out rate among teens and the high unemployment rate among adults.    

So, how are you handling it? Are you taking the ostrich approach, hoping that your kids don't ask any hard questions about their futures? Or is it like sex ed, where you hope someone at school addresses the subject before you have to?

Or are you pretending that your child doesn't need to think about things like jobs and earning a living until his or her senior year of high school? You know, the old 'let kids be kids' mentality.  

Let's hope it's none of the above.  

Instead, adults should initiate 'the talk' and provide positive, motivating input whenever possible. Just remember:

•Kids are curious about everything in the world around them at an early age. 'Career talk' doesn't have to be about salaries and career ladders, it can simply be instilling a respect for all jobs and hard working people whenever you have the chance. This opens kids' eyes to fields that might be of interest to them later on in life. "Look how beautiful this soccer field is. I wonder who designed it and who keeps it so nice?'

•There is always going to be bad news somewhere about something. That's life. The sooner you help kids learn not to get bogged down in negativity, the better. "Turn lemons into lemonade' is an overused adage for a good reason! Help your kids think about how they can make the world, our country, their community, our employment market... better when they grow up.  

•Kids don't miss a thing; if they constantly hear negative comments about your job, employer, colleagues and the work-a-day world in general, they are not going to be excited about joining it. These are formative years for them, in every way.  

•Having a job you love can be enormously satisfying and not just because of the paycheck. You know you feel good about yourself when you've solved a problem, helped another person in some way or achieved a team goal. Don't forget to tell your kids that.  

•If you have never had a job you love, share that with your kids too, but in an instructive way that motivates them to avoid your mistakes. Be honest.  

•If you help a student connect school subjects to their dream job or goal, it will have more meaning for them. Have fun figuring out the connections together. Why does a rock star need to know math? Why would psychology help a game developer? What could an astronaut learn from Lewis and Clark?

•Plopping kids down in front of a computer to find answers on their own doesn't really help them develop the life skills that go hand in hand with career skills. Public speaking, presentation, collaboration, diplomacy and creative thinking abilities are just a few of the ones that give kids a competitive edge in life and in the work world. Make 'the talk' a fun, lively discussion about being the best you can be in many, many facets of your life.  

•No matter what the headlines say, we all know the workforce will be a welcoming place for those with the enthusiasm, knowledge and skills needed to keep our world going 'round. Food, housing, clothing, education, recreation and all the other fundamentals in life will always be needed. Remind your kids of that. Don't ever let them think they won't be able to find their place in the world. By repeating this often, you will build their self-confidence and self-esteem too.  

•Talking with kids about growing up and getting a job someday really is easier than talking to them about sex!

I love products that make a difference and yours truly do.
- Anne Sumpter, Learning Magazine  

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