How after School Jobs Build self Esteem for Teens

Erik H. Erikson, a personality theorist, developed eight stages of personality development that are determined, uniform and universal in their occurrences where these stages occur in the order with which they’re listed, though approximate ages may vary based on persons and successful completion of prior steps.

The properties of the developmental stage he identified for those school-age children ranging from approximately 6 to 11 years he listed as Industry versus Inferiority. During this stage, children learn the skills necessary for economic survival, are trained for the working world and future employment, and taught technological skills that will allow them to be productive members of their culture. (Hergenhahn & Olson 2003) Social skills are learned to become active amidst others in society. Children learn that they must have real skills and knowledge to function properly (or formally) in society.

Those properties Erikson developed for the Adolescence stage are Identity versus Role Confusion. It is during adolescence when all this accumulated learning is used to find one’s place, one’s identity, the crucial transition period between childhood and adulthood, and the most difficult and trying times as it is pondering one’s first step onto that bridge that looks rickety and unstable. Can they hold themselves up? Or will they fall?

Self-esteem is one’s vision of self, their competency level, their worth, their attributes and misgivings. It is the meaning one has for themselves in comparison to those around them and is built throughout and dependent upon the prior stage and where the child’s sense of industry stands in comparison to their sense of inferiority. Simply put, it is one’s confidence in self to be able to carry out successfully those various roles in which they have been taught. How confident can one be in face of those things they’ve never actively tried before? In those things that they have only been made aware of objectively through the teachings and workings of others? It is the difference between swinging that baseball bat the first time and trying to hit the ball and swinging that bat the hundredth time and knowing exactly how to connect with that oncoming ball. Practice will not only filter out those errors in all the trials, but strengthen one’s abilities and one’s perceptions in their abilities.

It is in this same way that after-school jobs can build this adolescents self-esteem, their confidence and feeling of competence that they will take with them when finally they step out into the big world to carry out their role. It is the first real commitment that they’ve designed for themselves in a life outside of home, amidst a people and society neither family or friend unfamiliar. It is the first time that they truly have it in their hands to be responsible for something they’ve chosen for themselves, allowing a feeling of empowerment, of control and a feeling of significance in this power.

After-school jobs not only teach the responsibility of commitment, showing up on time, being reliable, doing the duties as were provided, but enforce the privileges that follow these responsibilities. For their work and commitment, the teenager is provided incentive, most often financially and these hard-earned monies are far more valuable than the weekly allowance that was given to them. Spending this money is far more meaningful with the pride that follows having worked hard for something and that reward of accomplishment. It allows the teenager to exercise and practice with this new independent and individual control over work, accomplishment, and reward. Once the adolescent has successfully committed themselves to something, has successfully accomplished, and has successfully been rewarded as a means to maintain commitment, then the teenager no longer doubts his/her abilities. This confidence thus allows them to take that step into adulthood with certainty, secure in themselves that they can and that they will.

Hergenhahn B.R. & Olson, Matthew H. An Introduction to Theories of Personality: 6th Edition. 175-176. Pearson Education, Inc. 2003.