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Getting Kids to Work

Updated: Jan 29, 2023

I work with youth, via The Boy Scouts of America. My wife and I raised four great kids (very biased!). I’ve worked many years in HR. Counting paper routes as a kid, I’ve got 40+ years of work experience. So, I feel I’ve got a pretty decent understanding of work.

We need to get youth to work!

When I’m around youth I always try to imagine them 30 years from now. Will they be productive citizens? Are they building character?  Do they have good morals? Are they exposed to positive influences that will shape their lives? Someday these young girls and boys will be parents and responsible for us old people!

Here are some thoughts on things we can all encourage and practice to forge and raise up good workers.

Let them explore. Youth need unstructured fun and exploration time so they can go outside and play. It can be in a wood or on the front stoop. Play teaches kids about socializing, creativity and clears their brain of structure and allows free thoughts to enter. 

Teach them responsibility. Remember you are responsible for them so why not make them responsible for themselves. Big subject, but it starts early in childhood development with rules such as: make your own bed, breakfast, load the dishwasher, etc. Show them, teach them, but then let them do it—if you are a micromanager at work you will struggle. Maybe you can use family times like this to ween and practice big management techniques with youth, then apply those techniques at work.

Expose youth to different types of work. Don’t let them go to trade school or college without spending some time in that field. Otherwise, the post-high school education may be under-utilized.

Shift paradigms from the “me” to the “we”. Let them volunteer—without you. They will learn a lot and be exposed to new work areas.

Put kids to work. If you are an employer, hire some kids (follow the wage and hour laws concerning youth of course).  We can start at home, then as they get older let them do odd jobs around the neighborhood. When’s the last time you saw some kid mowing someone else’s grass? I live in a rural area and my friend circle always has odd jobs that need done. Guess what—no workers. Do we think that if we have no workers at 16, we’ll magically have them at 26?  Thanks, and share your experience and comments so we can all grow professionally together.

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