So that weekly allowance you’ve been paying your middle schooler just isn’t cutting it anymore. Do you a) pony up more cash, or b) teach your adolescent a lesson in responsibility and the rewards of a strong work ethic by making them earn that extra dough? The truth is that there’s no wrong answer here. (There’s also a third and equally acceptable option that basically just involves saying ‘sorry, too bad.’) Indeed, there has actually been quite a lot of debate about the merits of putting kids to work in any capacity, with potential cons like less time for studying and interference with activities as frequently cited concerns.
That said, there’s a good amount of research that comes to mostly favorable conclusions. Per one study from the University of Minnesota, “work experience can promote the healthy development of some young people, especially when it is moderate in intensity and steady in duration.” The researchers also mention that young people typically have positive job experiences, and that work might play a role in helping youth develop invaluable time management skills. Still, when it comes to deciding whether or not a job is the right choice for your child, a whole lot of factors come into play, and the type of work is a big one. As such, if you have a budding entrepreneur in your home, you’ll want to ensure they meet their goals with work that’s wholesome and not likely to throw their social and school life out of balance. Good news: That’s exactly why we put together a list of jobs for kids that are easy-going and character building to boot.
This one is a no-brainer...babysitting is basically everybody’s first job, right? Friends and neighbors will agree that date night is far sexier when there’s an opportunity for quality childcare that doesn’t cost a fortune. This job is great for children 12 years and older, although younger kids can still get paid to help out when there’s a parent in the house. Tip: Some training in the form of a CPR class or, better yet, a formal babysitter certification from the Red Cross will considerably strengthen your child’s resume.
2. Lawn Mowing
A kid who is motivated to earn money is an excellent resource to tap for things that us tired grown-ups don’t really want to do. Case in point: lawn mowing—a pesky task that requires frequent follow-ups throughout the summer and could easily earn an eager beaver a quick buck. Of course, children who are interested in this type of neighborhood job should be well-acquainted with the basic safety protocols of manning a mower before they start tackling the overgrowth.
3. Errands for Elderly People
This wholesome, year-round job for tweens and teens boasts plenty of variety, since elderly people often welcome assistance with a wide range of tasks. Whether it’s a grocery store run, a trip to the pharmacy, or a visit to the hardware store in order to change a lightbulb, elderly neighbors in your area would most certainly find a way to employ any kid who’s willing to help.
4. Homework Helper
Many parents could still use a little help when it comes to navigating their kid’s geometry assignment…but the steep prices that a professional tutor commands are nothing to shake a stick at. As such, slightly older kids are in an ideal position to fill this void, since the material is all relatively fresh and the services more affordable. In other words, if your child puts in a few hours every week helping younger students manage their homework, all parties will profit.
5. Pet Sitting
Your kid might not be ready for the responsibility of watching a rambunctious toddler, but taking care of your neighbor’s cat, for example, is a relatively low stakes job that most (conscientious) children can handle. The going rate for this one varies depending on where you live—but if your child earns a reputation for being a good pet sitter, there will be plenty of opportunities to earn some green doing everything from feeding fish to scooping litter boxes.
6. Yard Work
Why stop at lawn mowing when yard work is, in fact, an all-season hassle? Any kid looking for work will likely find more than one taker when it comes time to rake leaves. Shovel snow, pull up weeds and plant seeds.
7. Dog Walker
When pet owners travel, the pups in the picture still need a breath of fresh air and a prime tree upon which to do their business. Young animal lovers won’t even find this job onerous, since it’s all about QT with furry four-legged friends. In fact, dog walking might be a particularly rewarding way for a child to fill up their piggy bank.
Obviously, this one is reserved for the strongest swimmers in the bunch. That said, any child who can pass a lifeguard test will have it made in the shade...at least all summer, that is. Bottom line: Any job that involves hanging out poolside or on the beach is a pretty easy sell. (Right?)
9. Lemonade Stand
Ah, the lemonade stand—a tried-and-true introduction to entrepreneurship. This classic business model can be tested by even the youngest kids (with a little help from the parents, of course) and the results are almost always worth the effort. After all, you’d have to have a heart of stone to say no to a kid offering you lemonade on a hot day.
10. Car Wash
This one is another classic business endeavor for kids. That said, the car wash does require a bit more skill than a lemonade stand, since the latter requires little more than the ability to pour liquid into a cup. Still, kids of all ages can get in on the action and the job itself is actually pretty fun for any child who enjoy water play on a hot day.