This is a guest post
It can be challenging to let go of your little one, who needs you for everything. On the other hand, raising confident, independent children gives you peace of mind. Independence is important to develop and nurture at a young age. It will ease their transition from adolescence into adulthood, and bring them success in life. You can help develop your child’s independence by encouraging them through work experiences.
Chores at Home
Most children, at some age, have chores. This type of work is the first step in raising independent kids. Even basic chores, like cleaning their rooms or taking out the garbage, help them develop responsibility. Age appropriate chores are key to capitalizing on these learning opportunities. As your kids grow, give them more responsibilities that help them learn practical life skills. As they are responsible for more and more, they will build confidence in their ability to take care of themselves.
Once you and your kid feel confident in their level of responsibility, you can challenge them to take on some of the care-taking for the family. Teach your child to cook, then let them be in charge of planning and preparing one meal a week. Preparing meals can make your child feel like a contributing member of the family. Have them do their own laundry, or have a house cleaning schedule. These chores help set positive habits for the future. Plus, you will be confident that they can cook and clean for themselves once they are old enough to move out!
Older, more responsible kids can look for work as house or pet sitters. These positions are normally short term, but require staying at the client’s home over night. Not only can house sitting generate some good pocket money, it simulates independent living in a safe environment. Staying in someone’s home means taking care of themselves, making their own decisions about their time, and balancing the needs of their clients with their own schedules.
House/pet sitting will develop a child’s confidence in their ability to be alone. Just like their first sleepover, your child’s first night alone will be exciting and scary. Having those experiences earlier will help them conquer any fears of living on their own. It also teaches kids to solve the little problems of daily life on their own, without taking you for granted. Kids who have short, controlled experiences taking care of themselves are more independent as they grow to adulthood.
Being a camp counselor will teach your young adult leadership skills. Most camps require counselors to be older teenagers, but sometimes day camps will hire younger teens, as well. These positions might be paying or volunteer, full or part-time, or even require travel and long-term residency at the camp. No matter which type of counseling your teen wants to pursue, being responsible for the well being of younger campers will help them develop responsibility.
Responsibility for yourself and others is a building block of independence. When a young person is capable of providing for the needs of others, they are learning to provide for themselves. Working in a camp environment requires that young people be independent in their decision making and problem solving. That being said, camp is a controlled environment. Even though they are responsible for a certain group of campers, there are always those trained individuals present to assure everyone’s safety.
Freelancing is becoming a more common form of work experience for younger generations. Encouraging your child into a freelance position will help them learn to advocate for themselves, understand their needs and limits, and run their own schedule. Part of independence is knowing how much you are worth and how much you can handle. Freelancing is a lesson in self-regulation. Freelancing teens are responsible to a client, so they have meet deadlines and expectations for their work. Additionally, their work schedule is flexible. Freelancing teaches kids to balance their responsibilities and plan ahead.
Freelancing is particularly good for tech savvy kids. There are all kinds of freelancing opportunities available on the internet, even for kids as young as 14 years old. Common freelancing positions include transcription and data entry, both jobs that require excellent typing skills. Newer opportunities are opening up every day, like virtual assistant positions, social media marketing, and web development. Digital industries are fast growing, making them a niche that teens can get in on at the ground level.
Running a business is the ultimate independence bootcamp. Entrepreneurs are self-motivated, hard-working, and goal oriented. They must market themselves, plan for the future, and maintain a strict schedule. It is incredibly challenging, but it offers young people the chance to develop resiliency and work ethic.
These days, young people can sell almost anything online. Whether they use a platform like Etsy, or start their own online store, your child can run their own business almost entirely online. If they don’t know what to sell, they can offer a service. Young people are marketing themselves as photographers, musicians, and landscapers. If they are talented at something, there is probably someone willing to pay them for those services. Starting a business is a risky move, but it’s also a way to be in total control of themselves.
Independence is required for success in life, but it is challenging to learn. Anything that fosters independence in your child will help them on their path, from the smallest opportunity to the biggest risks. The key to nurturing their growth is to create space for them to take advantage of these opportunities. Be supportive, but try not to rescue them from every challenge. With the risk of failure comes the most incredible rewards.
Ron Stefanski is the founder of JobsForTeensHQ.com and has a passion for helping teenagers find jobs. He created the website because he feels that teenagers need to focus on their professional passions much earlier in life and aims to teach them how they can do that. When he’s not working on his website, Ron is a college professor and loves to travel the world.