NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Experts say a little responsibility and financial solvency can be great for kids of all ages, but is it realistic for parents to encourage their child to work this summer? Here's how to navigate the balance between work and play.
Consider the age of the child
Regardless of how responsible your child may be, you have to follow the law, says Deborah Gilboa, known as "Doctor G," a board-certified family physician and parenting expert.
"You can't officially work until you are 16, but before then there are all kinds of things you can do to earn money," Gilboa says. "I wouldn't let a 10-year-old babysit without an adult in the house, but they could work as a parent helper or a dog walker."
Scott Steinberg, author of The Modern Parent's Guide series, says it's good for tweens to clock in for a few hours to earn money for summer activities, movies and more.
"An honest day's labor for an honest day's pay is one of the most important building blocks of successful individuals," Steinberg says. "Most parents don't think younger kids need to be rushed into working, but in most cases it's certainly better than loafing around watching TV."
For older kids, jobs lifeguarding, landscaping or at summer camps are all viable options, says Julie Ross, founder and director of Parenting Horizons in New York.
"Whether they're setting up a lemonade stand or a working for a fast food establishment, kids who are working have the opportunity to learn about net income vs. gross income, taxes, responsibility, teamwork and budgeting," she says.
You don't want a younger child working 40 hours a week, but there is nothing wrong with someone over 16 who is a go-getter working full-time during the summer, Steinberg says.
"Yes, your kid should be allowed to be a kid, but if they're really interested in a job or dedicated to getting a promotion, it's OK for them to work hard," he says.
With that said, parents need to encourage kids to pursue their interests as well as a paycheck, Steinberg says. Don't pull them out of activities they enjoy so they can work; as long as they have structure in their day and are exploring their interests, that should be enough.
"Parents shouldn't come in and say, 'Sorry, you're going to be working instead of exploring this hobby or interest that you have,'" he says. "Let them pursue the activities they most enjoy, but let them know at some point it's not all sparkles and rainbows."
In other words, let your kids have a childhood, but remember that part of childhood is learning how to grow up into a responsible adult, he says.
When deciding whether to encourage your child to work, remember that kids today generally have more schoolwork than those of previous generations and are often more stressed, Ross says.