Working with troubled youth as a child psychologist, youth sponsor, social worker, or friend can be an exhausting, thankless job. Why would anyone choose to work at such a job? After all, the pay is usually nothing or next to nothing, the hours are often long and unpredictable, and sometimes you don’t even get to see the end result of all your labor. Well, there are actually several good and worthy reasons people choose to work with troubled youth, and here are the top five:
1. There’s a Huge Need: As the divorce rate skyrockets, drugs and alcohol are made ever more available, and television and songs portray more and more anger and violence, it’s no wonder that more teenagers and young adults are feeling lost and alone and are acting out against the people and systems they feel have put them in their terrible situation. One excellent reason to work with troubled teens, then, is that the need is great and that it is getting greater each and every day.
2. It’s Rewarding: Working with troubled kids is tough. It takes everything you have and then a little bit more. It’s not your typical nine-to-five job because when you really care about the kids you’re working with, you are either constantly thinking about them or almost always available to them. This is tiring, but it is also incredibly rewarding to know that you’ve made a difference in someone’s life.
3. It’s a Learning Experience: One would think that working with troubled youth would make you the teacher and the youths the learners, but this is very rarely the case. As with all good relationships, a relationship with a at-risk youth is a relationship of give and take. Even in the worst of times, working with troubled youths can help you learn to open up, be more patient, and let go of your petty little anger. Besides this, working with troubled youth can improve your communication skills, your listening skills, and your sense of understanding and empathy.
4. It’s Never Boring: Sitting at a desk all day answering phone calls and pushing papers can get stale in about five minutes. Working with troubled youth, on the other hand, never grows dull. Every day, you have to dig deep to find the strength you need to build solid relationships with troubled youth. Because no two kids are the same and one kid can become a different person between Monday and Friday, you never know what to expect, either. If you’re sick of doing the same exact thing day in and day out, working with troubled youth as a full-time job or a part-time passion might be a great solution for you.
5. It’s Worthwhile: Unlike some jobs that make you feel like you’re just a corporate cog, working with troubled youths allows you to really make an impact on the world, one kid at a time. With each life you change, you’re making the world a slightly better place, making the job all the more rewarding and interesting.
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