In my 3 decades of working with teens I have frequently been asked if teens should work. I am referring to working at jobs here not school. We are all clear that teens should put effort into schoolwork but less clear about other sorts of work.
I have given this issue lots of thought and have read the research about teens and work. My answer to whether or not teens should work is a resounding yes. There are, however, some caveats. During the school year teens should not work too many hours per week. I would also suggest that the age of the teen should be taken into account with freshman and sophomores working fewer hours than their older peers in their junior and senior years. Freshman and sophomores are still adjusting to high school and we should support them in those efforts. My rule of thumb and work hours, in this case, is that 15 hours per week is just about the magic number during the school year. Certainly, teens can work more hours during the summer.
I say AMEN to teens and work for the following reasons:
1. Teens have the opportunity to develop a healthy work ethic.
2. Learning money management is an incredible and crucial life skill.
3. Working at a job can improve self-esteem and healthy self-esteem is associated with making better life choices and being less susceptible to negative peer pressure.
4. Teens have the opportunity to learn how to balance the work, play and studying and that is quite wonderful.
5. We want our kids to have structure in their lives and jobs provide structure;right?
A special thanks to Dr. Barbara Greenberg for writing this article. For more info please check out her site: drbarbaragreenberg.com