Ray’s Take Like it or not, eventually most kids are going to have to enter the workplace, so why not let them learn something about the “real world” while school is still their main focus? After all, learning to balance work and other pursuits is central to a successful life.

Every family has different circumstance and every child is unique, however, almost all kids can benefit from doing some sort of paid labor. Maybe it’s as simple as taking care of a neighbor’s pet when the owners are gone or doing a little babysitting. For an older teen it could be a regular time-clock job at a local business. No matter what the job is, kids learn a lot when they work. They have to take responsibility for their work performance to someone other than their parents. They’ll discover the importance of being on time, performing tasks as expected, handling constructive criticism, and dealing with the public.

There are also financial lessons to be learned from a job. It’s a sobering moment when you see what’s left of that first paycheck after taxes and other deductions. Instead of always having his hand out, your son could have his own purchasing power. Or, maybe you have a daughter begging for a car. If she has a job you can help her budget to make her dream come true. Eventually buying that car will create feelings of accomplishment and pride in both of you.

It doesn’t hurt to start developing the people skills that the workplace demands, either. In school you can pick your friends. However, at work you come into contact with a wider range of individuals. Learning early how to better communicate, work together and accomplish shared tasks will pay dividends throughout life.

Dana’s Take There’s no question that teens work, whether they have a paying job or not. Add up hours in the classroom, homework, and performing the extracurricular activities and community service that are vital on college applications and you come up with a pretty big time commitment.

However, that doesn’t mean ambitious, college-bound kids can’t benefit from paid employment as well. The same lessons in responsibility, money and time management, and people skills still apply.

Babysitting is always in demand and teens can study while their little charges are asleep. If your teen’s school year is already filled to bursting, there are still summer jobs like cutting grass or camp counseling. Or your kid could take a more entrepreneurial approach and develop a business tutoring younger kids, running a pet walking service or helping the technically challenged with their computers or phones.

Teens who earn their own money gain a sense of accomplishment and independence that others do not. However, they can also over-extend themselves. If you see that happening, work out together what needs to be cut back. Your teen’s choices may surprise you.

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