This is a collaborative post
Having kids may be one of the most rewarding things in your life, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Kids come with a fair few annoying (and sometimes terrible) behaviours that can be difficult to crack down on. Misbehaviour is just part of growing up! As kids get older and hormones start to rage, behaviour problems can get more complicated. While there are many positive parenting techniques to help deal with your kids compassionately, one option may offer positive results with minimal effort from you. Put your kids to work! Once they are old enough, working can have a positive impact on your child’s behaviour.
Resiliency can be a difficult skill for children to master. Anyone who has tried to feed a toddler knows how kids can melt down in the face of the unknown! As they age, struggling with change can manifest as negative attitude, lashing out, or acting up. Working gives kids plenty of opportunities to build resiliency. Jobs come with a risk of change, of failure, and of interpersonal conflict. Working kids learn to meet these challenges through trial and error. A professional environment is a safe place to learn coping mechanisms. The expectations and procedures for dealing with challenges are already in place, and your child will have a manager to help train them. It’s a perfect scenario for developing resiliency.
When kids are little, we have their unconditional love and respect. As they age, they naturally start to question authority and push back against us, their teachers, and adults in general. Teaching them the meaning of respect can be challenging. Traditional work environments give a value incentive to modelling and practising respect. The professional hierarchy of bosses and managers provides clear guidelines for who to respect and why. Bosses have the ability to increase positive gains, like wages, as well as enforce consequences.
As our kids learn what respect looks like in the business world, they will start to understand what it looks like in their personal lives as well. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many teens don’t know when they are being disrespectful until it’s too late. Practising in an employment setting can help them reflect and identify behaviours that are disrespectful before they make poor choices.
Disciplining children is a challenge, and everyone has an opinion about how you should or should not do it. It only gets more difficult as your kids grow up and can’t be given a quick “time out” any longer. Working can teach kids self-discipline, which literally removes the necessity to punish them for their actions. In an employment situation, a boss or manager will set specific expectations around work behaviours. If they don’t meet those expectations, there will be real consequences that are not doled out with the unconditional love they get from you. While punishment from you may come with the inevitable emotional backlash, punishment from a boss is cut and dry. Your teen will have to learn to control and monitor their own behaviour to avoid being written up, docked pay, or even fired! While these will seem like terrible costs to your teen, it is actually a very low risk way to learn this lesson. Even if they do get fired, they will have you to support and encourage them. They can get a new job and try again, learning from their mistakes.
Discipline and responsibility may be very similar, but they have very different benefits. Working holds kids accountable for their commitments. In order to reap the benefits of the job and not be disciplined, they have to hold a schedule and meet professional expectations. On top of holding job responsibilities, they will soon have money to manage. Working teaches kids fiscal responsibility. As they earn money, they start to save and spend more responsibly.
Finally, kids who work develop independence. Working after school or weekends means maintaining a schedule outside of the family. They have to get themselves to and from work, sometimes forcing them to take care of needs that have traditionally been covered by you! They may have to feed themselves dinner sometimes, or manage their own money. Teens as young as fifteen have access to many job opportunities that can earn them well over the minimum wage. That type of money gives teens the freedom to do more for themselves, and make more independent decisions. Though they may make poor choices sometimes, they will develop the confidence to run their own lives and recover from mistakes.
Teenagers have so many work opportunities available to them. Whether it’s an after school job, a summer internship, or freelance work online, working teens develop important life skills. You can support these positive behaviour changes at home. Be encouraging in the face of work challenges. Provide positive reinforcement for work related success, just as you would for school or sports. Help your kids reflect on their experiences at work to get the most out of these life lessons. Your teenager will reap the valuable rewards of job experience.
Ron Stefanski is the founder of JobsForTeensHQ.com and has a passion for helping teenagers find jobs. He created the website because he feels that teenagers need to focus on their professional passions much earlier in life and aims to teach them how they can do that. When he’s not working on his website, Ron is a college professor and loves to travel the world.