What did you want to be when you grew up? New studies show that young adults are taking longer than ever before to begin their careers. And those who do land jobs may switch paths several times before they find their groove. Experts say there are steps parents can take early on to help reverse the trend and raise career-ready kids.
Sixteen-year-old Sierra Lesney's childhood past-time, horse riding, is still her passion. She plans to take her love for horses and turn it into a full-time career as an international horse seller.
"I started when I was two," she said. "And my grandmother is a trainer, so I just started riding with her."
The straight-A honors student will pursue a college major that will help her turn dreams into reality.
"[I want to study] economics, because I think that will help me know the different currencies and different exchange rates and stuff like that for different countries," Lesney added.
"A real cue is what do your children do in their free time, or down time," said Rhonda Hess, a certified career coach with Fully Fit to Lead.
Hess helps adult clients identify their strengths, but says kids often show their natural abilities early.
A parent's first step is to watch your child play. Expose him or her to a variety of new people and activities, and introduce the idea of work and career.
For pre-teens and teens, experts tell parents to look for clues in their child's choice of clubs and after-school activities. Make the connection between those interests and possible careers. Talk about job "clusters" — families of jobs that require similar skills. Parents should be careful not to pigeon-hole kids no matter what their age.
"I think encourage and allow are distinctions that are wise to keep in mind," Hess said.
For Lesney, forging a career in horses isn't a big leap, it's already an important part of her everyday life.
Experts say some schools conduct student aptitude testing and begin career counseling in middle school or high school, but the programs vary. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics offers good career planning resources for parents and kids. Check it out at bls.gov.
An emerging trend in parenting is all about preparing your child for their career down the road. Parents are being told to start picking up on their child's interests and personalities earlier and earlier, and steer their children in those directions. The end goal is to get them a good job in the future. Here are some ways to help your child develop:
- Let them be creative: Let kids be curious and explore things. Letting them play with an old household appliance that can be taken apart and put back together can help them experiment. Blocks, Legos, and magnifying glasses will build their curiosity and expose them to a variety of ways to solve a problem.
- Begin to show them careers: Teach your children about a more complex understanding of society by talking about what someone who wears a fire helmet does. Expose them to a variety of different jobs and roles. Role play with them.
- Personalize their choices: As they age, offer them a variety of choices for their free-time. Books about a wide range of topics will help them understand the world and what interests them. From there you can focus on their interests.
Opponents: Other people believe this kind of parenting puts too much pressure on children to be successful. Young people are facing unemployment at a higher rate than ever before, and the pressure of finding a job and making money is greater than ever. Some accuse parents of living vicariously through their children, and others think we put pressure on children to choose similar career paths to our own. Letting children chose their path on their own can lead to greater happiness and more career satisfaction. (Source: womensagenda.com.au/talking-about/the-daily-juggle/is-there-too-much-pressure-on-children-to-be-as-successful-as-their-parents/20120923699
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