At What Age Should You Encourage Your Child To Start Working?

Thinking about putting your kid to work already huh?  For some reason I’m reminded of comedian Sebastian Maniscalco talking about how his dad told him to get a job at 8 years old.  I’d probably say 8 is a little young for a first, but those old school Italians didn’t fool around. 

There are a number of different laws and guidelines in America that put the general age that a minor can start working at 14.  So is this when you should encourage your son or daughter to get out there and join the rat race?  Or should you have them wait until after they graduate high school?  There’s no one size fits all answer for this one, but here’s a couple signs that your child may be ready to start working and what jobs you can encourage them to look for.

asian boy child children

Sign #1: Your Child Is Interested in Money

Now this could be a good or bad thing.  Hopefully, they aren’t interested in spending tons of it, but even if they are, all the better reason to encourage them to get a job.  Maybe you’re giving them an allowance for doing chores (which I’ll cover in a blog down the road) or they start selling lemonade on the corner to neighbors (which I did when I was a kid.  I basically took all of my parent’s snacks and drinks and sold them for a lot less than what they paid).  If they’re doing things like this, it may be time for them to learn to make money on their own.

photo of woman and her children lying on bed

Sign #2: Their Friends are Starting to Work

I remember when my friend started working at my town movie theater.  I was actually pretty jealous because it seemed like a fun job.  This encouraged me to look into it and later apply and then get the job.  Turned out to be one of my favorite jobs (and jobs that paid me the least) but it was a great learning experience.  I learned the value of working 5 hours on a Saturday night while my friends were out partying.  I would leave work with a check for $20 in my pocket and got to decide how I wanted to spend it that week.

Sign #3: They Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up

At a young age, not too many people know what they want to be.  Even people in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s still struggle with finding their perfect career.  There are rare cases though, where a kid knows what they want to be at a young age.  Maybe it’s a teacher, or a restaurant owner, artist, etc, whatever it is, you should encourage them to find something part time at least in that general area.

father and children looking at a laptop

So, what kind of jobs should you be encouraging them to find?  It’s important obviously, to not have them overwork themselves either.  So a 14 year old working 40 hours a week is not a good idea (and probably not legal).  But working between 5 to 10 hours a week starting at a young age of 14 or 15 really isn’t a bad idea.  If money is a real need, then maybe more hours is okay, but you want to make sure that school is the first priority.

So what kind of jobs should they be looking for? Here’s a few ideas that come to mind:

-Umpire/Referee: If they like playing sports, encouraging your son or daughter to umpire baseball or referee basketball isn’t a bad idea.  In a lot of towns, they are so desperate that if you’re working in the rec league you don’t even need a certification.  I was an umpire for over 10 years and somehow never got certified (and umpired games that coaches assumed I was….but we won’t tell anyone that).  Anyway, the job is definitely a little intense and can be nerve racking for a young kid to have to deal with yelling coaches and parents, but it teaches you to learn how to take charge…and quickly.  You’ll have to learn to make quick decisions and be confident and project confidence. 

-Babysitting: If the intensity of being a sports official sounds a little too….intense…another great option with little qualification requirements is babysitting.  This is another job where your son or daughter will have to learn to take charge pretty quickly once the parents leave.  They’ll learn some great time management skills and learn to take responsibility

concentrated black children using laptop and tablet at home

-Service Industry: This one is a little more difficult because if your child is around the 8th grade freshman in high school age range, they may not be able to work at bigger chain stores/restaurants depending on age requirements.  But a local ice cream shop or my favorite theater…or restaurant may bring them on for a few hours a week.  Scooping ice cream or pointing people to their seats or handing out candy aren’t too grueling of jobs, and they can provide a great foundation for communication skills and dealing with customer complaints. 

Again, not everyone’s situation is the same, and some kids may need to start working sooner than others and for some it may just be a fund learning experience.  For others it may mean to make some money to contribute to their family.  Whatever the case may be, encouraging your child to start working is a good thing as long as it’s done with the child’s best interest at the forefront.

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