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9 Ways to Motivate a Teen to Get a Job

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If you’re trying to figure out how to motivate a teenager to get a job, it might have you thinking back to your first paid gig. Mine was babysitting. I was ready to show responsibility and earn some money, so when a neighbor asked me to watch her one-year-old, I was psyched. I’d say I nailed it. I was a natural, except for the fact that I locked myself out of the house.

Having a job as a teen is a huge character builder. That combined with the fact that teens want spending money might leave you frustrated if your own kid doesn’t share your same enthusiasm for employment. If you’re racking your brain to figure out how to motivate a teenager to get a job, try these 9 things to move your son or daughter from the couch to gainfully employed.

1. Ask your teen why he or she is resistant.

Chances are, your teen’s response will give you the impression that he’s choosing laziness or is prioritizing his friends, social life, or even video games over employment—but try to read between the lines. If you have an introverted or apprehensive kid, getting a job can be scary. If he’s already stressed, adding another thing to the calendar and a boss he has to answer to might be anxiety-inducing. Try to get to the heart of the pushback and offer your support.

2. Tell your teen why it’s important.

It might not be that your teen is job-averse; she just might not see a reason. If she has friends who drive and she shows responsibility in schoolwork and doesn’t have expenses, she might think a job is unnecessary. Remind her that a part-time job is great for interpersonal and problem-solving skills, and can help expose her to fields she might want to pursue.

3. Make your teen responsible for paying a bill.

Tough love might eventually be a key factor in how to motivate a teenager to get a job. I’m not suggesting you stick your 17-year-old with the mortgage, but a cell phone bill or car insurance is a manageable amount. And if he doesn’t pay it, it gets cut off. Cause and effect become very apparent very quickly.

4. Close “The Bank of Mom and Dad.”

What motivation does your teen have to get a job if you are her personal ATM? Bad example, since most teens don’t use ATMs, but you get the idea. Find a balance between providing and enabling. Pay for your daughter’s prom dress, but draw the line at forking out $30 every other week for her to get her nails done. If it matters to her, she’ll work to pay for it.

5. Lean into your teen’s passion.

If your son loves to cook, look for a job at a gourmet kitchen supply store. If your daughter wants to be a stylist, knock on the doors of boutiques or salons. It’s a gift to help your teens turn their passions into paychecks.

6. Increase the amount of work your teen is expected to do at home.

With age comes responsibility, and if she’s not going to seek it out, you can find a way to bring it to her. A friend of mine canceled her cleaning lady and reassigned the tasks to her 16-year-old. It took her teen two months to decide he’d rather get a job.

7. Talk about what he or she would earn.

Money talks! Discuss with your teen what he can expect to make along with saving, spending, and giving. Seeing the numbers could be the motivating factor that’s been missing.

8. Think outside the burger-flipping box.

Not every kid can go to a fast-food joint for a six-hour shift three times a week. Encourage your teen to think about self-employment. Help your teen make flyers to market him or herself as a lawn-mower, pressure washer, grocery-getter, laundry folder, or personal assistant for busy moms.

9. Talk about value outside of money.

Not all teens are motivated by money. Every job I’ve had—babysitting, waiting tables, filing papers—gave me something of value. Whether it was a new friend, a mentor, or insight into what I didn’t want to do, I learned that money is not the only reward for hard work.

Here are other tools to motivate your kids.

What have you done to encourage your teen to get a job?

ASK YOUR CHILD...

What part-time job do you think would be the most fun?

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