Work Rewards

Parents who “coddle” their teenage children by not making them earn their own money while studying may be hampering their academic chances.

Experts say children who are encouraged to work casual or part-time jobs while at high school or university are more likely to develop a strong work ethic that will help them succeed.

Debate over the merits of encouraging students to work has been sparked by a US study, that suggested the more money parents gave their children for college, the worse their grades were likely to be.

The study’s author, University of California sociology professor Laura Hamilton, told the New York Times the difference was “not big enough to make the kid flunk out of college” but flew in the face of conventional wisdom.

“Everybody has always assumed that the more you give, the better you child does, ” she said.

Australian child and adolescent psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg said parents who were “heavily invested in pushing obstacles out of the way for their kids” were in- advertently hurting their offspring’s future chances.

“I think that what we’ve got now is a lot of kids who have grown up in a culture of entitlement and indulgence, where everything’s been given to them, ” he said.

“If you talk to anyone who’s hugely successful, what you find is that they all got an early start learning about jobs and money and I just don’t think that’s happening with as many young people today.”

Edith Cowan University associate professor Andrew Guilfoyle said forming a link in young adults’ minds between working hard and achieving results was about “basic behavioural psychology”.

“If kids work for rewards that they have to earn themselves, they’ll always have that intrinsic motivation, ” he said.

Pia Broderick, associate professor at Murdoch University’s school of psychology and exercise science, said having teenagers work in menial jobs might also encourage them to do well in their studies so they could pursue a more stimulating career.


© The West Australian

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