Supporting your children in their decision-making is sometimes a thankless task – often they want to please you and go along with whatever you suggest, or conversely simply want to vent and don’t necessarily want to hear your advice on the situation!
When it comes to supporting the decisions they need to make about their academic or job choices, many of us as parents or carers often feel ill-equipped to support them when we don’t fully understand the options available ourselves. However, here are some tactics that can be helpful when you need to offer guidance:
1. Encourage your child to share their thoughts and concerns about their future. What are their goals and what’s meaningful to them? Questions such as ‘what makes you happy?’, ‘what are your personal values?’ and ‘what don’t you want to do?’ can all help to focus the mind
2. Actively listen to their response, showing empathy and understanding to build trust, trying to avoid imposing your views on them (just because you followed a certain path or career doesn’t mean it’s right for them!)
3. Encourage your child to explore a wide range of activities and take advantage of opportunities on offer at school / college / university. Exposure to different things will help them to discover what they really enjoy (and what they really don’t)
5. Consider experiences companies offer such as open days/events, work experience or internships. These all give an insight into certain careers. Why not have a look at https://www.springpod.com/virtual-work-experience and https://www.studentladder.co.uk/ for opportunities?
6. Open up their eyes to different pathways – for example apprenticeships which they may not have considered
7. One thing we know is constant is change – encouraging your child to embrace change will stand them in good stead for the future
8. Help your child to start building their professional network. They could attend events, join organisations and seek out mentors which will build a network of people who can open up more opportunities to them
9. Teach your child about resilience and perseverance. Rejections and setbacks are frequent when it comes to career journeys, they can take learnings from every failed application and their ability to bounce-back will be key
10. Recognise it’s ultimately their decision but let them know professional advice is also available, such as via careers services
Supporting your child to make informed choices is definitely not easy, but open communication, gentle encouragement and a patient listening ear, will help to set them on their way to success.