When Is It Too Early For Kids To Work?

February 24, 2013  |  

While on vacay in Bermuda, I made a pit stop at a mini mart to pick up some water and a few snacks to take with me into town. At the end of the check out line stood an adorable curly haired ten year old boy bagging my groceries. I jokingly asked him if he was working and what time he would be getting off work. The cashier, a.k.a. his grandmother, quickly turned and answered my question for him.

“He sure is working, knocks off around 9 tonight, and only works on Saturdays making about $150.00 a day”.

I turned to my boyfriend mouthing a mild expletive. I was blown away by the fact that at the age of ten, children were actually working for pay. I couldn’t help but think of my own son back in the states, who happens to be the same age. Was I slipping in terms of instilling values and setting expectations for my own children?

It was an ‘in-your-face’ reminder of how parenting in the states is different than it is in many other countries. To a certain extent – our kids feel entitled. I know there’s more that I can do in order to avoid crippling my kids by making things too easy for them. There’s definitely room for improvement on my part. While I don’t plan to suit my son up in his Sunday’s best and take him to fill out job applications when he gets out of school this Friday, I do plan to revamp the earning system that I currently have in place. Working for what you want instead of just getting what you want has its rewards.

Do you think children should work for pay before sixteen?


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  • kierah

    In NYC you can get working papers at age 14 (for non-model, non-farm work). At 14 I got my papers and got my first summer job for pay. It is a great feeling to earn your own money.
    Prior to earning a salary I volunteered during my summers (5 days a week) at a summer program for young children.
    Work ethic is important. I don’t think children should be supporting a family, but it is alright for them to earn their own movie/clothing/amusement park money.

  • JamieC

    I see nothing wrong with children doing light work before 16. My first job was at 14, cleaning up at my church 3 hours per day, twice per week for 250 dollars per month. It was nice for a summer job.

    Kids shouldn’t be working more than they read, study, or get exercise, but a good work ethic (outside of school) is always needed.

  • LnyceLnyce

    Not formal work, but a strict schedule either for a neighbor or a special job around the house. I think one day a week mowing the neighbors lawn or washing cars (u get the idea) is a great way to continue work ethic in a child. Assuming they already have chores but I personally don’t believe chores should be rewarded with gifts.