It used to be commonplace for teens to have a part-time job, whether that was helping to pack bags at the store, or delivering newspapers. However, these days it is becoming a whole lot rarer. Here we look at the potential benefits and pitfalls of your teen getting a job.
The Benefits of Part-Time Jobs for Teens
There are a whole host of reasons how your teen can benefit from getting a job.
1. It offers a much wider perspective on life, and mixing with people they might not normally have the opportunity to meet is a great eye-opener to the world around them.
2. A part-time job is a great self-esteem booster; teens feel empowered, experiencing a sense of accomplishment and personal achievement. It also provides greater autonomy, allowing teens to gently pull away from the parental-guarded environment, which will help pave the way to adulthood.
3. Working teaches important life skills, such as having to deal with issues or problems that arise. It gives teens valuable work experience, which always looks great on a resume; it can also help to network, and perhaps provide useful links to possible work in the future. Going to work regularly offers teens the chance to cultivate their time-management skills, and with that, comes a sense of responsibility.
4. Teens who earn their own money also have more of an appreciation of its value, allowing them to reflect that it doesn’t grow on trees and needs to be earned. Additionally, being responsible for their personal purchases helps teens learn to budget and plan out their finances.
The Drawback of Part-Time Jobs for Teens
Teens are invariably under a lot of pressure, especially during high school, and added stress from working can place a load on their shoulders that they may find difficult to cope with. It is hard enough for them to keep up with the stressors of school life without there being an additional drain on their energy and concentration levels.
Although working only a few hours a week seems to have little effect on teens and their school work, research shows that when the hours creep up to over 20 hours a week, they are more likely to be absent from school and will have grades that are substantially lower than peers. Additionally, studies have highlighted that working more than 20 hours can cause an increase in drug and alcohol misuse.
The other concern about teens working is the fact that they are often naïve and inexperienced, which leaves them open to being unfairly treated and exploited by employers.
How Parents Can Help
The role parents play in assessing whether their teen is a suitable candidate for a job is vital; it’s not for everyone, and if your teen is already stressed out or struggling with school workloads, then it perhaps isn’t the best decision. Suggesting a trial basis is often a good idea; that way, you can assess how well they fare.
When your teen first raises the subject of work, it is important to sit with them and discuss both negative and positive attributes a job can bring. Some teens simply see dollar signs before their eyes and haven’t really given much thought to the reality of actually working!
Some teens are lacking in time management skills, so parents can step in with some words of wisdom; this will allow teens to spend their time more productively, alleviating some of the pressure, helping them to feel less overwhelmed by their responsibilities.
As with everything our teens do, it is our responsibility to look out for our kids. Do all you can to ensure that their terms of employment are fair, and make it clear to your teen that they should be treated with respect. Teens need to be able to distinguish between someone being their boss and being taken advantage of, and you can help them differentiate between the two. However, it is also important that they are aware that respect is earned and most certainly should be reciprocated.
Lastly, be supportive. Although when they come home complaining about how tired they are, and how hard it is to work, your initial response might be to roll your eyes or retort that they have no clue how difficult life can be. However, for them, on their first stretch towards adulthood, it can feel tough. Give them a shoulder to lean on and make sure you have regular check-ins with them; this will provide invaluable support and also allow for any potential problems to be nipped in the bud.