Sooner or later, every kid decides they need a job. Letting a child apply for their first job can be a challenging decision for families. You have to weigh the pros and cons, set some clear expectations, and prepare them for the reality of the workforce. How can you tell if your child is mature enough to take on a job? It comes down to knowing your child, but looking for common signs might help you make the leap.
Taking on More Activities
School aged children are often overscheduled. As adults, we want them to have as many enrichment opportunities as possible. As they get older, we let them make their own decisions about extracurriculars. They may participate in clubs or sports teams. They might pursue hobbies or even volunteer their time. Apart from rounding out their college apps, taking on activities could indicate that they are ready to start working.
Teens who do extracurricular activities learn to balance their obligations. They are able to schedule themselves, plan ahead, and focus on their own priorities. If your child is able to take on multiple extracurriculars without burning out, they are probably well prepared for a part-time job.
Even young children create savings goals. We teach them to put their dollars and cents into a piggy bank to save up for that special something. Older kids set higher goals. Saving for a car or college seems daunting if they rely on you for all their income. If your teenager is looking at big ticket items, it might be time to let them work for it.
Kids that can manage their own money are more likely to understand the value of work. They are resilient in the face of workplace challenges because they have a goal to focus on. Letting your child work toward financial goals will give them a leg up in the future. It helps them understand financial responsibility and achieve major life goals. like owning a home.
Arguing with You
Kids crave independence as they mature, and they may seek it out in unproductive ways. A child who argues or talks back is really just asserting their independence. If you are struggling with your kid’s behavior, a job might be the positive outlet they need. Working teaches discipline, and a paycheck is a great incentive for professionalism. That professional behavior will carry through to the classroom and the home. A job can give difficult teens the outlet they need to straighten up.
Even young children can have an entrepreneurial streak. When they are very little, they might play at owning a business. The classic lemonade stand is a great example of this entrepreneurial nature. In the digital age, there are real money making opportunities for children as young as fourteen. Your teen might want to start an online store, a blog, or even sell things at school. You can nurture these endeavors, or encourage them toward more traditional work experience. Both paths have their benefits.
One of the major roadblocks for working teens is resiliency. The workplace can be challenging. They are developing new routines, working on interpersonal skills, and balancing their time. Teens don’t have the same support systems at work as they do in school or at home. They will be treated like adults and expected to act like them.
Reflection is a good sign that your child may have the grit necessary to be successful in an entry level position. They should reflect on their failures and learn from them. They should want to take on challenges and take healthy risks. When your child develops grit, you can be sure they are ready to handle common workplace obstacles, like difficult customers. Grit helps kids get the most out of work experience.
Advocating for Themselves
Self-advocacy is a life skill that some adults can’t even master. When your child starts to advocate for themselves, they are showing you that they are ready for the world. It might start with standing up to pushy friends, or defending their choices to you. From there, they’ll start talking to teachers and coaches. Interacting with adults in a respectful way shows great maturity. Teens who can communicate with authority figures are ready for the professional environment.
Kids can’t always express themselves, and they don’t always know what they are ready for. When your child wants to start working, look for signs of maturity and independence. It’s important to remember that some signs might not be positive. Sometimes, behavioral issues are indicators that your kid needs more responsibility. You know what’s right for your family, and will have to weigh your child’s readiness against the benefits and challenges of working. Until they can handle a job, encourage small steps that prepare them for the workforce. You know your child better than anyone, so make the decision that’s best for them.
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.