In today’s world, we all have to work. Well, by work, we don’t necessarily mean a 9-5 office job, but something that can be defined as a career. The same goes for our children too. Soon, they’ll have to make a choice and pick out a path for their professional lives. Since working is going to take up a big part of their time and define their financial state, it’s essential that they make the right decision they won’t regret in the future. Our role as parents is to guide them on the right path in this crucial time of their lives. Here, we will talk about ways you can help your child in their career decision-making process.
Early Exploration and Encouragement
Childhood is a good time for finding one’s passions and talents. A child is curious and likes to try out different things. Even though they’re still not old enough to say they love accounting, for instance, they can still give you a clue about what they’re probably most passionate about. Encourage them to explore different hobbies and pay attention to what they usually do when playing, what toys catch their attention, and what objects they like to tinker with. These observations can give you an idea about their talents, passions, and type of intelligence.
Now that you know what your child is good at, encourage them to pursue it. Tell them how amazing it is that they’re doing what they like. Now, you might need to put in a bit more than just verbal reinforcement: if you think they need to take a class to learn a skill or have a specific career decision-making tool, provide it for them willingly and without hesitation.
Open Communication with Children
Usually, when a child’s career decision-making process takes an unexpected turn, parents tend to get defensive and judgmental. This happens especially when they don’t approve of their child’s decision and think that it’s a mistake. However, it’s important that parents let their guards down and listen to their children first. Because, as this article indicates, parental support helps children explore their options more and make the best choice. On the other hand, lack of engagement and interference only make their career research and decision-making process harder.
So, whatever you might think of their choices, let them explore freely and make their own decision. It doesn’t mean that you should stop yourself from expressing your opinion completely. You should guide them with honesty; but don’t forget to be respectful. Striking a balance between parental guidance and giving them enough autonomy is of utmost importance. Provide them with the necessary information but also give them the benefit of the doubt. What if they’ll really make it in the path that they’ve chosen?
Exposing Children to a Variety of Career Paths
Some children may have difficulty finding their passion. These children may need a little push and a platter of options offered to them. Therefore, giving them a chance to try different things could help them decide on one. Taking a part-time job during the summer or volunteering can be beneficial in helping them gain real-life experience and start their career planning. Other useful ways include participating in field trips and career fairs or talking to career counselors.
We all have people around us who have different jobs and work in different industries. Ask them to talk to your child and describe a usual workday for them. If you can, take your child to work for one day and let them grasp the idea of working. Ask them which of these experiences were more enjoyable and let them go from there.
Nurturing Skills and Education
The importance of a good education that provides children with enough resources and nurtures their skills and talents can’t be overstated. Unfortunately, most of the educational programs today focus on teaching children things that they will never need or use after the final exam. While many of these subjects are needed to give them a more in-depth understanding of their field of study, a major part of education should be dedicated to discovering talents and building practical skills, such as social skills and critical thinking.
It can be hard to find a school that covers all these aspects and helps children conduct comprehensive career decision-making research. If that’s the case, you should make up for this lack at home. Try to educate yourself by consulting useful resources that will help you nurture different skills in your child. Let learning be a constant in your family, both for you and your child.
Addressing Challenges and Fears
Choosing a professional path can be quite scary. We’ve all been there: sweaty hands, short breath, racing heart. Stress before a job interview is universal. Plus, there are many stereotypes and biases in society about certain groups of people. For example, some jobs have been assumed “inappropriate” for women, or some companies don’t hire people with disabilities. We’re not trying to say that you should tell your child to neglect these things completely. On the contrary, the rate of success is important in career decision-making assessment. But these baseless prejudices shouldn’t keep children from picking out a career that they’ll be successful in.
Another obstacle in children’s career decision-making is fear of failure. Let your child know that they’re not supposed to win every time, and that it’s okay to lose sometimes. It’s more easily said than done. If you keep blaming your child for their mistakes, they’ll internalize this behavior and will be afraid of failure. This can keep them from even trying. So be careful of how you react when you see your child fail at something.
We’ve tried to suggest some career decision-making examples and tips for parents who are worried about their children’s future. However, the truth is that this road is a bumpy one that you can’t control or predict entirely. All you can do is help your child flourish and support them when they make a decision. In this journey, children need not only emotional support and guidance but also financial resources that will help them get into college and reach their goals. Providing for them is your responsibility for now; so, don’t forget to save up enough money!