John Cowan: Get teens working

School is already over for thousands of teenagers. Most still have study and exams to get through, but then they will have months of summer holiday ahead of them.

The best thing for your teenager to do during the holidays is work.

Of course, employment gives them money and something to keep them busy, but the collateral benefits are even more valuable. The most important thing a teenager gets in the workplace is adult company that helps him or her to mature. Biology automatically gives them an adult body, but adult behaviour is learned from older role models. Modern teens spend most of their time with same-age peers with very little opportunity to spend time with older people – without that interaction adolescent behaviour and attitudes persist into their twenties and beyond. Holiday jobs are often the first time a young person has the experience of being admitted into adult company and actually feeling like a grownup. It benefits their self-esteem far more than a summer on the beach or on their Playstation.

Holiday jobs teach things that academic education cannot. Employers look for work experience when they are hiring, so young people with CV’s full of holiday jobs will find themselves well ahead in the queue when it comes to eventually seeking adult employment. The foremost skill that work teaches is actually how to work – how to turn up on time, persevere and be diligent.

If your teenager already has a career in mind for later life, there is huge advantage in getting a holiday job in that line, even if it is an unpaid volunteer position. Many professionals or trades-people are keen to encourage interested young people.

Teenagers often need help getting employment. Parents have wider networks and may be able to find jobs with friends, family, or in their own workplace. When parents and teenagers work with each other, the relationship redefines and often improves.

Teenagers often seem unmotivated to work – very often due to fear of the unknown rather than laziness. Inspiration and encouragement helps, but often the best motivator is necessity. If parents pull back on providing pocket money, the idea of paid employment is much more appealing.


About Author

John Cowan

Writer, speaker and broadcaster, John Cowan shares his insight and opinions about the latest in parenting and family news in New Zealand. Hear John speak on radio stations every week throughout the country and regularly on national TV.  Follow @JohnCowanNZ on Twitter

Comments are closed.