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    4 Tips To Help Your Child Plan Their Career

    By Dr Srividya
    2 Jun'22  8 min read
    4 Tips To Help Your Child Plan Their Career

    Most parents want to guide their child regarding careers and prospects. This article talks of ways you may incorporate in your approach as a parent, to hand-hold your child in their career planning process. Making career planning an exploratory journey also makes it a fulfilling one.

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    4 Tips To Help Your Child Plan Their Career

    Most parents want to guide their child regarding careers and prospects. This article talks of ways you may incorporate in your approach as a parent, to hand-hold your child in their career planning process. Making career planning an exploratory journey also makes it a fulfilling one.

    It is common for teenagers to grumble that their parents are pushing them into streams or careers they don’t like. It is also common for parents to complain about how their children are not listening to them and may even show complete disregard. So, how can you go about having a fruitful discussion regarding careers with your child? Are there any guidelines for the all-important career conversation? This article highlights five do’s and don’ts that might help you when you chat with your child about career planning.

    Listen, Do Not Assume

    Let us understand this through the example of Tabassum, who is the mother of Nahid, a student of class 10.

    Resistance To Differing Opinions

    Tabassum feels her younger son Nahid is very non-serious about academics. He spends his day scrolling through YouTube and Instagram, listens to music, and only exits his room for meals or when he needs to go out. Tabassum feels Nahid, who is in class 10 now, is very playful and just laughs, sniggers, or even shrugs his shoulders when she asks him what he wants to do in life. Nahid has so far not shown any interest in academics, he plays a bit of sport for the school team but is not outstanding there either. He does learn the guitar though, and he and his friends have made a small band and practice during weekends. He is exceptionally good at music.

    His parents are rightfully worried about his music interests and how this will earn him a living. They often tell him, “There can be only one A.R. Rahman!”. Nahid knows his parents do not support him, and so the conversations regarding careers are never done heartfully. The parents can see the clock ticking as he is in class 10 now, Nahid can feel the resistance and his best bet is to avoid the chat completely. And so, you see that the reality is that there is resistance at both ends to talk about an important topic. So, how do you as a parent counter this? One suggestion is to sit down and listen to the other side fully.

    As a parent, it is hard to spend time listening to your teen talk about a career that you believe will be impractical or dreamy. So, the tendency is often to scold, stop, resist etc. This tends to build conflict and a communication gap at both ends.

    Show Interest In Your Child’s Interests

    A suggestion would be for Tabassum to research the career stories of musicians, and band artists, and provide the facts for the discussion. This way parents are talking to Nahid about his key interests by showing interest in what he is doing rather than denying it completely. However, this needs to be done with an open mind, rather than as an excuse to put down Nahid’s interests. This shows regard and openness to listen.

    Teens crave for a non-judgmental ear from their parents and elders. Be that ear. Nahid must live with his life choices, he may not have the life experience of his parents, but he does need to build his. As parents, Tabassum and her husband can guide Nahid, however, his future will not be limited to their experiences as the world is dynamic and careers are changing. Do try to listen and take out time for the conversation. Don’t assume anything. Your child would really like to share their dreams and aspirations with you if they believe you will listen with an open mind and heart. Listen, listen keenly, and attempt to understand.

    Also Read | Why Communication Is Key To Understanding The Needs Of Your Growing Child

    Know You May Not Know

    Do read and keep pace with changing times, don’t only refer to the times when you were young. Statements like, “When I was young, my father said, and we obeyed…” do not usually have the desired effect on your child.

    Start reading books on different types of careers and interests early along with your teen if possible. This is very educational as it shows you those aspects of the world you may not be familiar with. You may want to start a small project of shortlisting four to five careers and researching. The important aspect in this is your mindset. Seek to learn and understand along with your tween, don’t use these as reasons to convince them into any one career you are comfortable with.

    Also Read | What Will Be A Good Career Option For You? Understanding Yourself And The Industry

    Never Oversell An Option

    Let us look at the case of Jaya and her son Vishnu.

    Take the case of Jaya. She moved her son to one of the best international schools in one of the metro cities in India. A lot of funds and effort were invested in growing their son into a confident and competent boy. To date, she is finding it very challenging to get him off gaming. It seems like there is no end to the number of hours spent on online games. Her son, Vishnu has shut down and does not talk much. He seems to really enjoy the Humanities subjects like History, Geography, etc. However, there are no lucrative careers in these areas, and she knows they are used to a lavish lifestyle. So, she is unable to encourage his interest in Humanities.

    During the summers when Vishnu was in class 9, she convinced him to go to the office of an architect friend to give him exposure to that field. She was hoping to convince him into doing architecture. However, the whole project backfired, Vishnu totally rejected architecture and is thinking of giving up Science in class 11. Jaya is aghast and wished she had never sent him to her architect friend.

    Make It Exploratory

    Make the career discussion an exploratory journey, if you can. Sometimes, teens find it very hard to talk about serious topics that may have many consequences. They might be worried about committing and taking a decision either way. In such situations, it helps to lighten the seriousness and make it an exploratory journey, rather than a predetermined pathway to be followed. You both could choose to read more about certain careers, share with each other, and start collating the data in a journal or document. The key is to be patient and curious to learn, and to become a friend to your teen as you explore together.

    how to help your child choose a career, career development activities for students, choose your child career, choosing a career path, career planning, career development plan, career planning and developmentChildren Will Tell You Their Dreams And Ambitions If You Listen

    Discuss Budgets, Costs, and Influences

    As you see your child growing up, you need to expand the sphere of your conversations with them.

    Talk About Education Costs

    Teens want to be treated as adults often. They are still learning, however, giving them the responsibility, and trusting them allows them to become the responsible adult you need at home. Around their high school years, talk to them openly about college-related expenses, share information about how you would like to invest in their degrees and development.

    Discuss Household Expenses

    Regarding their lifestyle choices, share how much you spend monthly in your home for the lifestyle you are used to. Help them get a reality check on money-related aspects so they are given a chance to value your hard-earned money and understand their prospects better.

    Be Alert To Peer Pressure

    Peer pressure also has a huge impact on your child’s career choices. Sometimes, children want to study abroad or in a very expensive college because all their batchmates are doing so. Parents feel pressured and guilty if they feel the expense is too much for them. Sometimes, parents agree very easily as they can afford the expense, only to find later that the child has not valued their hard-earned money. Discuss money matters and budgets openly to pave the path for a grounded perspective in your child.

    You may find that your teen wants to pursue a career that is just not fit for their skills because that’s what their peers are studying. Tanmay felt compelled to take computer science engineering. It's not like he enjoyed it or was good at it, he just hated the fact that he didn’t want to be a computer engineer like his friends. To feel part of his gang, he sat for tutorials and is completing his third year at an engineering college. Unfortunately, he is unhappy and dissatisfied, and mildly depressed. His parents are aghast and know that he has chosen a field that does not suit him, however, they are helpless. Most likely, Tanmay suffers from low self-esteem. This is very common amongst teens as they grow and develop. As parents, look for these signs and symptoms early and help build your child’s esteem.

    One possible solution in Tanmay’s case is for him to join clubs and social groups of teens with diverse interests like his. Teens need to feel a sense of belonging with their peers and this can be challenging at times. In some situations, it is personal experience that helps the teen. In Tanmay’s case, he is exploring courses/careers that are not hard-core engineering for his future as he had discovered that programming is not something he enjoys.

    As parents, you can facilitate, listen, support, and even navigate your child’s career if they permit. However, it helps to pass the baton gently to your child and allow them to choose their track, event, and race. They grow as they learn through their life choices too. Applaud as they win and applaud as they fall. They need to experience both for success.

    Enjoy the journey as you chat about careers with your child and see them grow. It is indeed a heartful experience.

    Also Red | How Do You Know You Need A Career Counsellor: Signs To Help You Evaluate

    Note- All examples shared in this article emerge from the professional experience of the author, however, the names of the protagonists have been changed to maintain confidentiality.

    Dr. Srividya is an Organisational Psychologist, Career, and Personal Growth Coach. She works with teens, parents, adults, and returning professionals, to help them align their personal and professional needs, desires, and overcome personal and professional challenges. She can be reached at

    • Education
    • Psychological concepts
    • Psychology
    • Behavioural sciences
    • Primate behavior
    • Branches of science
    • Adolescence
    • Experience
    • Child
    • Self-esteem

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