It’s quite normal for kids to have no idea what they want to do for a career, even up to and beyond secondary school. It’s also normal for parents to despair of seeing their children ever settle on a secure career path.
Because it’s an issue that affects both parents and their kids, it does you both good to make career discussions a regular thing.
That’s not to say it needs to be a heavy or stressful sit-down conversation that demands either plans or performance reporting. More, it’s about the odd comment or observation, keeping eyes open to opportunities or inspiration, and making sure kids feel relaxed and confident about their choices.
See Them as Individuals
Sometimes parents don’t even realise they’re seeing their kids as extensions of themselves, and this makes it hard to accept that what pleases the parent doesn’t necessarily fire up their kids’ ambitions or desires – and vice versa.
Jobs and careers change all the time. Depending on your age, you might even discover there are career options you never even realised existed.
As children grow, instil in them a sense of self-belief and self-worth. Take an active interest in things they like doing and try not to see childhood activities as trivial or childish. You never know, that childhood interest might spark much deeper study over the years.
- Kids who like puzzles, numbers, or figuring out how things work or fit together might enjoy corporate finance as they grow up and begin by studying accounting – even online if that fits better with other commitments.
- Kids who love the outdoors and are always active might end up with a career in sports.
- Those who spend hours on the computer playing games might go on to learn coding or games development.
There are career options hidden in all kinds of childhood pursuits.
So let them be themselves and give their passions your validation. You can encourage them to look beyond playing a game, for instance, by imagining how complex or interesting it must be to write the game story or design the computer code to make it playable.
Research Careers Yourself
As old industries fade away and new ones come along, the job sphere changes and certain fields gain more importance.
As a parent, it’s a good idea to read up about current and future industries so you can speak knowledgably if kids come to you for practical advice.
Find out about which career paths are likely to be in demand in the future. Some sectors to think about are business and financial services, renewable energy, creative or digital media, ICT, tourism, the sciences including health and life, manufacturing, and engineering.
If your child shows an interest in a field that’s completely unknown to you, there’s nothing to stop you reaching out to either teachers or careers advisers. They know how important parental guidance is to a child’s development and will be willing to point you in the right direction so you can find out more.
Help Them Focus on School Work
It’s tough sometimes for kids to see the relevance of classroom study, much preferring to get on with life instead. As far as you’re able, try and relate common everyday tasks to theory and exercises they might be doing in class.
It can be especially useful if you can make connections between apparently unrelated subjects. Artists might not see the point of maths, for instance, but both art and maths require spatial reasoning and pattern recognition. Other concepts that overlap both subjects include symmetry, measurement, percentages, and proportion. By learning about one subject, kids can grow their skills in another.
Maths is often a contentious subject, so it might help your child if you encourage and praise their efforts, especially if they can see its relevance. A simple maths exercise you probably do every time you go shopping is to compare prices and work out the real value of so-called special offers. Showing kids who’re reluctant to learn maths how it can save them money can help get them a bit more interested in maths at school.
Having said that, even if your child is older and has already left formal education without forming a definite career plan, it’s never too late to go back to studying for a career. Most adults these days change careers a few times during their working life, and those changes often involve further education or specialised training.
So, while all the above points are things you can do to help as they grow, at the same time try not to stress about it if they can’t settle on one fixed path. There is always time and opportunity for more mature students, and learning at any age is never wasted.