by Leto Copeley

Your teen is taller than you and struts around like a grown-up. Don’t fall for it, parents…your job is not over! Years of real-life challenges lie ahead…is your teen ready for the big leagues?

1. Business etiquette

During high school, a teen is preparing for a future career, whether she knows it or not. A teen should be comfortable greeting adults with a firm handshake, properly introducing himself and others, using names during conversations, and carrying on a conversation with solid eye contact and full responses. This life skill will place your teen head-and-shoulders above the pack when it comes time to apply for part-time jobs, colleges, and scholarships.

2. Social awareness

Does your teen hold the door for the elderly? Lower her voice in a library? Offer his bus seat to a pregnant woman? Use clean language in public? Part of growing up is becoming socially aware of your environment, and that skill should be second nature by high school.

3. Money basics

By high school, a teen—even a broke teen—should have a solid understanding of how to handle money responsibly. Don’t spend more than you earn; steer clear of lottery tickets and poker tables; stock away extra money for a rainy day; and never, ever, get into credit card debt. Debt makes the poor get poorer, and saving makes the rich get richer—easy peasy.

4. Tolerance

Tolerance is a tough one, because we all have strong opinions about controversial subjects and political views. One of the keys to getting ahead in life, though, is learning to tolerate different opinions and viewpoints without name-calling or judging.

5. Emergency response

Can your teen handle an oven fire? A flooding bathroom? A late-night break-in? A friend who is choking? If not, he or she needs to learn how to call 911 and talk clearly to dispatch.

6. Conflict resolution

Can your teen handle insults from jerks? Because one day he will be flipping burgers and his scrawny boss will call him a lazy $#%#$—it happens to everyone. Will your teen knock out the boss-man’s teeth and wind up with a criminal record, or does he know how to listen to others, ask for explanations, and talk through problems Being able to handle a tough situation calmly is key to surviving high school…and life.

7. Housekeeping

By high school, a teen should be self-sufficient at home, including doing his or her own laundry from start to finish, cooking a decent meal, cleaning the dishes, changing sheets, sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping. More importantly, the teen should be able to foresee household needs and take care of them without adult instruction or supervision.

8. Dealing with cops

What does your teen do when he sees a police officer? If he covers his face and mumbles, “oh great, here comes the po-po,” it may be time for a refresher course. Teens need to know that police officers, firefighters, and EMS drivers applied for those jobs because they wanted to help people. Plus, even if a cop is really a bad guy, the best strategy is to keep your cool and be respectful. Good eye contact and a friendly nod will get your teen a long way, even if he happens to be “making bad choices” at that moment. Nearly all episodes of police brutality start with poor communication skills, so teach your teen now to treat officers with courtesy, and above all, never run.

9. Car maintenance

Shockingly, many folks cannot handle basic car maintenance like pumping gas, checking fluids, changing a flat tire or filling a low tire. Sure, nowadays a tow truck is only a cellphone call away, but the knowledge and ability to handle these tasks without help is still important. Even if your teen does not own a car or even have a driver’s license, at some point he or she will be riding with friends in a clunker. If your kid gets stranded on a country road at midnight without a phone, wouldn’t a back-up plan be nice?

10. The art of the smile

Your teen needs to smile. A lot. Let’s face it, teens are grumpy and life’s not fair. Important folks like teachers, cops, lawyers, doctors, and bankers are supposed to treat everyone equally, but sadly that’s not always the way the world goes ’round. People like people who smile. If your teen masters the art of smiling, in no time he or she will be ruling the world.