There comes a time in most teen’s lives when they consider getting a job. Working while you are still in school requires responsibility, maturity, and stress tolerance. Your teen may not have considered the pros and cons. To help your teenagers make an informed decision, have an honest and open discussion about working and what they can expect.
Cons of Teenagers Work
Balancing Work and School
Teenagers don’t always realize how much time work can take up. A part time position may only be 10 to 20 hours a week, but that is on top of the 40 hours they spend in school. When you add study, sports, and leisure time to the equation, a part time job can be difficult to handle.
Teens need to be equipped with good stress management skills to take on part time work. Discuss strategies with your teen, including things that you do for work/life balance. Make sure your teen has a realistic idea of how many hours they can work, and what they might be giving up. They may need to consider less traditional routes, like seasonal work or remote jobs, to help them maintain a healthy schedule.
Making Difficult Choices
Having a job means being reliable. Your teen may find that they can’t maintain a work schedule and their hobbies. Maybe they skip auditions for the spring musical, or tennis try outs. Remind your teen that it’s better to advocate for themselves then assume that they can’t work it out. The musical director might let them be in the chorus if they can make one rehearsal a week. Maybe their new boss will schedule around tennis tournaments. Even if they can’t do everything, trying to find a solution will teach them responsibility and respect.
Fear of Missing Out
There are so many important events that happen in a teen’s life; homecoming games, parties, competitions, and prom. A job could lead to missing out. They won’t get to go on that girls’ camping trip if they have to work every weekend. They might be scheduled on prom night. Make sure your teen is aware of these sacrifices before they get a job. If one of these events is deeply important to them, make sure they know how to plan ahead to assure that they can make it.
Pros of Teenagers Work
Building a Strong Work Ethic
Working can benefit teens in the long term, particularly when it comes to work ethic. It is easy to see the outcome of your efforts in a work setting. When they work more hours, they make more money. If they work hard, their boss gives them a promotion. The outcome is directly tied to the effort.
The work ethic they build in a part-time job can benefit them in high school, college, and their adult lives. They may learn to enjoy the process itself, putting less emphasis on the outcome. This leads to a growth mindset, allowing your teen to take healthy risks and learn from their mistakes.
Working gives teens more independence, and they begin to form their own values. Teenagers who work are forced to choose between activities, how they save or spend their money, what experience is best for them. When they make these decisions, they are creating priorities. Priorities eventually form values.
They also need to choose a job that is a good fit for them. Teenagers as young as fifteen have a range of occupational options. From traditional work, like bagging groceries, to freelance coding in the gig economy, teens can choose jobs based on their interests and goals. Even if something they choose turns out to be the wrong fit, they’ll gain valuable skills from the experience.
The earlier teenagers can set their own priorities, the sooner they will be able to make informed life decisions. Your teen is just starting to consider what they want their lives to look like in the future. If they have solid values, those difficult decisions will be easier to make.
Jobs Give Teens Flexibility
Having an income opens opportunities to teens. They can buy technology to help them in school, make major purchases like vehicles, and save money for future events. Even if your teen doesn’t have a major goal they are saving for, when opportunities arise, they will already have a means to raise money.
Working offers teens more than financial flexibility. The life skills they gain from work experience will help them into the future. The first experiences are always the hardest to gain, so giving teens early opportunities makes them better equipped to handle college and career.
Working Builds Leadership
Some people seem to be born leaders, but most of us must learn leadership skills. For teenagers, work experience is a great way to master these skills. Colleges are looking for leaders. As higher education becomes more accessible, competitive schools and departments are no longer focused solely on academics. Having a stellar GPA and taking all the AP classes is great, but it only shows one aspect of your personality to admissions. They want students with leadership skills, hobbies, passions, and life experience. A student with a well-rounded resume has a better shot at that acceptance letter.
Teenagers have a variety of job opportunities available to them, and a list of reasons they may want to work. That doesn’t mean they can make the decision on their own. Talk to your teen about the pros and cons of working. Make sure they know what they are getting into, and what their options are. In the end, every teenager is different. Only you and your teen know what’s best for them.