Work/School/Life Balance

It’s September and your young worker kid has to balance their part time job with school. Not to mention life. Are they prepared to make the transition?

They say ‘there are only so many hours in the day’, but try telling that to a young person at the beginning of the school year. With seemingly boundless energy, it’s understandable why they might think that energy is an infinitely available natural resource. Unfortunately focus, good judgment and safe environments are not.

Every year young workers across Ontario are injured and even killed on the job for a number of factors. While the main cause of these accidents might appear obvious whether they be falls, burns or otherwise, other factors do come in to play. Among these are fatigue and distraction.

Teenagers need nine to nine and a half hours of sleep. Unfortunately snapchat alerts coming from a bedside phone can go well into the night.

While our kids may get away with nodding off at school with the worst consequences being a scolding from a teacher or some drool on a binder, this same action in the workplace has much more serious consequences.

it’s sometimes the most simple tasks that have the most potential for causing injury. When faced with work that is inherently dangerous, antennae intuitively go up along with focus. A loud power tool with a sharp blade demands attention and concentration. But something tedious like standing on a scaffold and scraping paint for hours on end can be far more dangerous. A momentary lapse in concentration due to lack of sleep may cause that half step backwards followed by a fall. Even falls as little as one metre can cause brain trauma or other serious injury.

Parents need to be in tune with their working kids’ day to day activities. If the candle is burning on both ends while school, work and video gaming appear to be unending, a conversation may be in order.

And do all things possible to make it a conversation; not a speech about the need for sleep and safety. It’s likely they already know this, and if they are tired and cranky they will not be receptive, regardless of how wise your words may be.

Try asking them how they are doing. Be empathetic to the challenges of balancing their various responsibilities. And truly listen to what they say. Make it a discussion about the value of getting enough sleep. Rather than offer solutions – we have lots of experience doing that in their lives! – ask them what they think.

Through productive communication, including a sense that you are truly interested in what they think, you will be better positioned to offer support and gentle guidance that will lead to a greater awareness followed by action. Visit for insight on how you can have productive dialogue with your young worker child.

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