Things to Consider Before Your Teen Goes to Work

. 11/6/08

At fourteen years old, your teenager is legally permitted to get a job. This can be both scary and exciting at the same time - for you and your child! With summer just around the corner, your son or daughter may be starting to consider applying for temporary work during their three months of summer vacation. Or maybe your child wants to get a long-term job working after school in the evenings and on weekends.

There are certain drawbacks to think about, especially when working during the school year. Too many hours can sap energy, take valuable time away from studying, and cut into family time or time spent with friends. Plus, research shows that teens who work more than twenty hours per week have higher rates of drug and alcohol use, sexual promiscuity and emotional distress.

While those things may be disheartening, on the flip side, working as a teen brings with it many benefits. A job teaches responsibility. It promotes confidence - in themselves and their abilities. It offers your child the opportunity to develop new skills and discover possible career paths. It allows your son or daughter to learn how to manage money properly and gives them a taste of freedom and independence because they no longer have to rely on you to provide for all of their needs.

First, sit down with your teen and discuss the pros and cons of getting a job. If you decide it's something worth pursuing, you'll want to make a list of possible places to apply. The great news is that there are loads of options out there. Many companies hire additional "summer help" which is when many teenagers get their start in the working world.

When coming up with a list of potential jobs, first take into account your teen's interests. Here are a few ideas based on specific interests he or she may have:

Pet Sitting
The Zoo
Paint Ball Arena
Sports Stadium
Sporting Goods Store
Skateboarding Park
Amusement Park
An Arcade
Ice or Roller Rink
Miniature Golf Course
Driving Range or Golf Course

Other job ideas for any teen:

Yard Maintenance
Grocery Store - stocker or bagger
Fast Food Restaurant
Ice Cream Shop
Movie Theatre
Paper Route
Car Wash
Gas Station
Convenience Store
Summer Camp Counselor
Video Store
Restaurant hostess, host, bus-person or dishwasher

Once you have a few ideas of where your son or daughter would like to apply, consider having them volunteer for a day or two or job-shadow a friend or family member so they can decide if it's the right job for them or at least something they will enjoy. Of course, it isn't always possible to "try before you apply" but it may be something worth checking into if you just aren't sure.

Being an encouraging and supportive parent is essential. Be prepared and willing to be a chauffer, at least until he or she gets that driver's license. And be understanding if your child isn't able to attend family parties or functions because they are scheduled to work.
Whatever you do, take it all in stride and try to enjoy your teen's step into the scary yet exciting world of employment.


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