How to Guide Your Child Towards Their Perfect Career
February 20, 2023
A dream job for most people involves doing something they love, in an industry that aligns with their values, and in a role that challenges without overwhelming.
It’s a big ask.
Very often kids have no idea what they want to do when they leave school. Even after they’ve left school and maybe started university, finding the perfect career can be a challenge.
There are a few things parents can do to help kids navigate this obstacle course.
Let Them Be Themselves
It can be tempting to try and guide kids along a similar path to our own. It’s one we know and understand, and we feel well qualified to encourage.
Kids though, are individuals, and it’s important they follow their own interests and passions even when they’re completely opposite to your own.
Our kids watch us all the time, from babyhood through childhood and adolescence, into their teens and beyond. They look for signs of approval, of validation, and much of their sense of self-worth depends on getting a positive reaction from parents.
Just about any interest can open doors to a satisfying and lucrative career, so try not to dismiss anything your child likes to do as trivial or frivolous. Maybe they’ll end up in computer science, the games industry, academia, music, or art. Maybe they’ll study accounting if they love numbers, or maybe they’ll study textile and design if they love fashion.
Open Doors, Open Minds
Expose kids to as many different experiences as you can, and try digging beneath the surface to find hidden interests.
An example might be visiting a theme park and going on rides. Beyond the thrill, kids might also be interested in the engineering that goes into developing the rides. Another example could be visiting a museum. It might spark an interest in archaeology or ancient history. Visiting historic cities can get kids interested in architecture if you show them where to look and point out interesting or unusual details.
You don’t ever need to mention that you’ve got careers in the back of your mind. You’re just looking for that gleam of fascination and satisfaction kids get when they discover something interesting and new. That’s something you can nurture to see if they want to learn more.
Talk About It
Careers discussions shouldn’t be heavy or pressured.
Maybe your child knows exactly what they want out of life, and if so your job as a parent is a bit easier. But if they haven’t yet hit on what sounds like their ideal career, encourage them to think big and believe in themselves. Not all kids want to be the next Nobel prize winner or global business owner. Many have more modest or grounded ambitions, and that’s absolutely fine too.
With the rapid pace of change in the world today, it’s not uncommon for kids to come up with ideas for careers that you’ve never even heard of.
If you find yourself floundering, or not sure about how to guide and advise on a career that’s outside your knowledge, you can get advice from careers advisers. They’re very happy to help parents research career options too, since it means children and young adults get better guidance at home on finding their ideal career niche.
Encourage Their School Work
Kids sometimes find it hard to relate school subjects to real life.
Parents can play and important role in helping them see how one subject relates to and informs another. It’s a concept not often explored through standard schooling and relates to the ‘reading around’ the subject they’ll be expected to do should they go on to higher education.
Numeracy, for instance, is helpful in lots of areas of everyday life. From understanding interest rates to calculating recipe ingredients, you need to do some work with numbers. Accounting skills, especially, are very useful in everyday personal money management.
The earlier kids see how school learning helps them in their other interests, and how various subjects link together, the greater their interest in learning will be. It will also help to broaden their understanding about how the world works in general when they start making connections between schoolwork and life.
If you can, create a quiet place they can do homework or personal research projects. Buy books or magazines on topics of interest or encourage them to use the library. Most libraries have digital borrowing too if going in person is difficult.
In the end, the final choice of career will be your child’s and they may change their minds several times before finding their ideal work. Our acceptance of lifelong learning makes this a positive thing, and you’ll know you’ve given them belief in themselves, confidence in their abilities, and the self-esteem to follow their dreams.
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