Looking to the Future: When Should Parents Talk About Careers with Their Children?

When I grow up, I want to be a ________.

Although they have yet to see everything the world has to offer, kids often have some sort of idea about what they want their future to look like. In an adult’s eyes, these may sometimes seem like nothing more than naive dreams. However, it wouldn’t hurt for parents to discuss future careers with their children whenever they show interest. Having that career talk can help youngsters figure out what they want to do as they get older.

Starting the Conversation

When is the best time to bring up career options? Many parents talk to their kids about the topic during the last few months leading up to their high school graduation, since this is a crucial stage for teens choosing their desired college programs. However, students from the UNCG Department of Counseling and Educational Development believe that it’s never too early to strike up a conversation with kids about their future careers.

You could start by simply asking your child what they want to be when they grow up. You can then follow up with their favorite subject in school or what they think of any particular adults they see going about their work. This stage is simply reserved for observations about your kids’ interests and strengths.

Expectations Vs. Reality

Kids are free to dream about their future jobs. However, their choices may not always match up with their interests or strengths. This is because they may be motivated by other factors like money, fame, or their parents’ occupation. For example, a little boy may want to become a doctor because both of his parents are doctors, but he isn’t exceling in his science subjects in school. In this scenario, parents can step in indirectly by encouraging their kids to learn about other career options. It’s important to avoid dismissing a child’s passion or interest since this can potentially hurt your relationship. Instead, encourage them to explore different alternatives.

When it comes to giving them ideas, the key is to expose them to new experiences while they’re young. You can bring your child to certain community activities, for instance, so that they can get a better sense of the world around them. You can even bring them to your own workplace, so they can understand what you do for a living. Kids have a tendency to pick up things from movies and TV shows. For example, if you want your child to learn a musical instrument, maybe getting them to watch cartoon shows like Phineas and Ferb or Little Einsteins will give them a gentle push in the right direction.

Of course, the option to support your child’s dream is still there. They are still young, after all, which means there is plenty of time to work on their weaknesses. Picniic’s ‘10 Ways to Help Children Excel in School’ explores various ways of helping kids perform effectively in their academic studies, especially in areas where they need to improve. Organization is a key factor in most of these tips, which help kids learn the importance of productivity and ignoring distractions.

Assessing the Current Job Landscape

In giving kids career options, it’s vital to understand the current job climate. A quick look at CNBC’s report on the 10 most in-demand jobs and their projected growth can give you ideas on which industries offer a bright future for your child. Of course, the healthcare sector has always been a popular choice, but the report also reveals other positive career paths that will flourish in the years to come.

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean your child will know exactly what they want. Teens in particular are often unsure about what courses they want to study. If your child is unsure of what they want to do, assure them that not having a clear picture about their future is normal. In addition, consider talking to them about broader college programs that can help them discover their passion along the way. For instance, many liberal arts programs provide opportunities for students to get into a wide range of industries, including business, media, IT, and education.

School Guidance

Children spend half of their time at school, so it would be good to check what initiatives the school runs to support your child’s career aspirations. You can have a chat with the guidance counselor for tips on how to nurture your kid’s talents and ask about their career exploration lessons. It will also be helpful to learn about any school events that involve career-based extracurricular activities.

Remember that you can use Picniic to list topics you can discuss with your child, as well as plan for activities to help them find out their interests.

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