When I was in the second grade, I would spend Saturday afternoons making money. I would wake up in the morning, eat a stack of pancakes, and plot how I was going to earn a cash flow over the course of the day. Usually, I'd scour the house for odds and ends my mom was OK with me selling to neighbors. I sold old comic books, CDs, silverware, and one time, a concoction that was just like lemonade but with a cinnamon twist to it, because I had to outdo my competitors.
I was a elementary school entrepreneur, and that desire to work, work, work was something I never grew out of. When I was 12, I scored my first job working as a babysitter. When I was 16, I worked at a handful of restaurants and clothing shops. By 18, I had a part-time job résumé that was almost two full pages long. I loved working, not only for the money but for the lessons that I learned that I couldn't have gotten anywhere else at such a young age.
Which is why I think parents, or future parents, or anyone who ever wants kids should let them (at a reasonable age) have jobs growing up — or even require that they do. Here are the four main things they will learn that will stick with them forever.
1. Jobs Teach Responsibility
When you take that very first job of yours, your number-one priority is to not get fired. You want to prove you have what it takes to show up on time, put in the work, get praise from your boss, and master the skill you're tasked with. That's the kind of responsibility a teenager doesn't always get anywhere else in their lives. After that first job, even if they make a mistake or two, they have a rule book ingrained in them on how to succeed for future jobs at a very early age.
2. It's a Wise Way For Kids to Spend Their Time
When I was younger, having constant jobs helped me spend my free time more wisely. Instead of coming home from school and napping on the couch until dinner time, I had to make each hour of the day count. I would come home from school, start homework, work my job for a few hours, and finish my homework when I got back. While it sounds like a lot for a kid to do in one day, it made me focus more on my homework, knowing that I didn't have all the time in the world to finish it.
3. They Get to Work With Different Types of People
One of the greatest way to get exposed to interacting with different types of people and handling them in different situations is by taking on a job at an early age. When we're younger, we are used to being around people our age. But when kids work a job, whether it be at a movie theater, retailer, or restaurant, they will interact with so many people and learn customer service skills issues and/or general people skills along the way. They'll develop patience, which is another skill that any future job will be thrilled that they have.
4. They Learn the Value of a Dollar
Before I started working, the only knowledge I had of money was from the game Monopoly, which was anything but realistic, as it always seemed like when I ran out of money, there was a stack in the box I could secretly pull from. In real life, that's not true. Working a job at a young age teaches kids how to handle money and also the importance of using their money wisely. I would save $40 from every paycheck and put the rest in savings. Doing that started my desire to be a saver over a spender at a very young age.