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The 6 Steps to Encouraging a Resistant Teen to Get a Part-Time Job

YOU might think it’s time for your teen to get their first part-time job, but they may be resistant to the idea.

Teens can have a variety of reasons why they don’t want to work – from not knowing how to go about getting a job to lacking the confidence to do well  – but if you use the 6 strategies in this article, your teen will be happily employed in no time!


Step 1: Start With Why Your Teen is Resistant


The first step is to have a conversation with your teen about why they’re so resistant to looking for a part-time job. Instead of assuming that they’re just lazy, their answer might surprise you. 

You might learn that they don’t know how to get a job or worry that they won’t be good at it. Or maybe they think the only jobs for teens are in the fast-food sector and don’t want to work around food. 

You have to get to the bottom of their resistance, and then once that resistance is addressed, they’ll be much more willing to get out there and look for a job.


Step 2: Highlight Monetary Freedom From Parents


Sit down with your teen and talk about the pros and cons of having their own paycheck. Make sure you spell out for them your expectations for their paycheck. They might assume that you want them to save every penny by putting every paycheck in the bank when you only will encourage them to save a small amount each payday. It’s important to get these expectations out in the open and resolved.

Also, highlight the ability to save up for large purchases that mom and dad would never even consider purchasing – even for a birthday or Christmas gift. Some kids dream of an expensive gaming computer, car, or electric guitar. Point out to your teen how these expensive purchases can become a reality with a part-time job.


Step 3: Get Out The Calculator and Give Your Teen a Paycheck Estimate


No joke, but most fast-food restaurants are paying $17 an hour for a starting position here in Southern California. If a teen worked 15 hours a week, a biweekly paycheck would be $510 before taxes.

To me, that figure is just amazing. Showing your teen exactly how much they could earn could be a big motivator.


Step 4: Tie Working Into Interests or Goals


If your teen has interests or goals that you’ve been reluctant to spend money on, then your teen’s paycheck opens up the possibility of pursuing these interests.

For example, I had a patient who loved playing the electric guitar. His parents bought him a starter guitar, but he had his eye on a pretty expensive one. After working for several months, he was able to purchase this guitar and created a band with his friends.

 Work with your teen’s current interests and goals to encourage them to use a part-time job to develop these things,


Step 5: Create New Boundaries Around Future Family Purchases – And Stick To Them!


This step is especially important for teens that need a BIG push to get a job. As the parent, you might need to provide some uncomfortable external motivation for your teen to get that job. You do this by communicating that there will be certain optional family purchases that you will no longer pay for.

Some optional family purchases that your teen could take over might be monthly video game subscriptions, clothes, electronics, makeup, etc. Anything that doesn’t involve food, educational costs, and basic clothing can go into this category, but I caution you from making EVERY purchase an optional one. I just suggest that you get very clear about which optional purchases you’re willing to make going forward and which ones you’re not.

It’s also really important that you stick to your guns here. This step only works if your teen gets uncomfortable enough to get that job.

Consider Making Your Teen Responsible For a Bill (i.e. monthly video game subscription)


Step 6: Be Prepared to Coach Them Through The Process


Finally, the last step is to be prepared to be involved in the process of your teen’s first job-hunting process.

Most teens just don’t know how to take that first step – or even the second step – when job hunting. Take the time to patiently help your child with each step of the process. This is your opportunity to teach them the skills they need that they’ll use their entire life.

I can’t tell you how many parents in my office complain to me that their child can’t find a job, but when I ask them what THEY’RE doing to provide the support their child needs, they suddenly get quiet. They mistakenly assume that teens know how to get a job on their own, but they just don’t.

You’ll only have to help them with this process once, so put their time in now so that your teen learns this process and then will repeat it for every future job.


Take-Home Message


So there you have my best advice about helping your teen find a part-time or summer job so that they can undo the damage done by the pandemic.

Part-time jobs have so many advantages, from learning essential life skills to increasing a teen’s GPA, that it’s hard to find a better parenting tool to address the motivation and mental health crisis that the pandemic created. I have seen so many teens over the years blossom and step into their natural talents and personalties after getting a part-time job in high school.


The resources presented on the Modern Parenting Solutions website are not intended to replace therapy – they are for reference and educational purposes only. As every family is individual and unique in their strengths and weaknesses, the resources and advice supplied on this website are general in nature and should never replace any medical or psychological services that you may be currently engaged in. Please contact a mental health professional if you have any questions.

If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

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