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Kids and jobs

Many parents want their children to experience the connection between putting forth an effort and earning money. This can be done by linking your kids’ allowance to household chores. You can also encourage a work ethic by helping your pre-teen kids find odd jobs and helping your teenagers find their first “real” job. Jobs also help make kids more responsible.

For many pre-teens, their first job is babysitting. They’re still too young to have a late-night social life, so they’re usually available on Saturday evenings! There currently isn’t a legal minimum age to be a babysitter, although most children’s’ organizations suggest that parents use their best judgment – and even consider waiting until their kids are at least 12 before allowing them to start babysitting. You can even help them find their babysitting gigs by speaking to family, friends and neighbours with younger children. Here are some other things to consider:

  • Schools often offer babysitting training for kids in grades 6 and 7, so encourage your kids to get certified. Training in first aid and CPR is also recommended.
  • Make sure they know how to get help in case of an emergency (dial 911, contact the parents).
  • Ask around about the going rate for babysitters so your kids are prepared and know what to charge.
  • Make sure you know where your child is babysitting and for whom. Stay reachable in case they have questions, need your advice or feel overwhelmed.

Other jobs that are suitable for your pre-teen include a paper route, dog walking, pet sitting, grass cutting, car washing or snow shoveling. These jobs are all likely to pay differently; just one thing is definite – the rate should be clearly defined and agreed upon before your pre-teen begins any work.

Once your kids are 15 or 16, they can get their first “real” job, earning money by working part-time during the year or full-time in the summer. Typical teenage jobs include working in a retail store, scooping ice cream or working in a fast food restaurant. Teens with different skills may find that there are opportunities to provide other services such as graphic and website design work, DJ’ing youth events, or working as a junior camp counsellor. Encourage them to be creative when looking for jobs. Perhaps they can reverse mentor an adult who wants to understand what’s happening with the younger generation.

Ideally, if they find work they like, they’ll be more likely to stick with it. They will experience the satisfaction of a job well done and a pay cheque, even if they’re only earning minimum wage. The first pay cheque can be very exciting for your teen, but also confusing. Make sure they understand what’s on their paystub and the difference between “gross” and “net” pay. They will have to apply for a Social Insurance Number so that they can be paid and they will need to open a bank account if they don’t already have one.

It can be hard for teenagers to find that first job if they don’t have prior work experience. They need to be determined and motivated when looking, and they’ll need your support. They’ll also need a good pair of walking shoes as they pound the pavement handing out resumes. Encourage your kids to follow up on any potential leads. Even if adults they know aren’t hiring, those people may know someone who is.

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