How to Help A Child Find A Career Interest

How to Help A Child Find A Career Interest – Tips to guide children of any age toward an interest they might like to pursue beyond high school or college. What do you want to be when you grow up? What starts off as a cute innocent question for little ones eventually morphs into a life changing decision.


How to Help A Child Find A Career Interest

The younger ones usually reply with an answer such as doctor, teacher… my son says Chef (because he likes to help me cook) and my daughter says artist (because she loves to draw and color). Responses are usually based on something they’ve seen in action and admire. As the children get older and are exposed to more careers, as well as what might go into achieving the careers, they become more cautious with their decision.

I’m not out to try to force-feed a career on an 8-year old but I do like to gauge whether their interest in something is just a passing fancy. I like to see what my kids are “in to” and present them with opportunities to excel to see if the interest remains. For instance, my son’s dreams of football glory were tempered a bit when he had a chance to meet a professional football player and heard about the effort that player made to keep his NFL dreams alive.

I remember being in elementary school thinking I wanted to be an orthodontist. My reasoning? I wanted to help everyone have access to a beautiful smile. My parents were thrilled. They could possibly have a Dr. in their family. As I got older and had braces, I changed my mind. I think I was turned off by my orthodontist yelling at all the kids who didn’t brush right, or knocked off their brackets because they ate popcorn or chewed gum.

My parents were definitely disappointed, I could tell. But, I didn’t let it sway me back onto that career path. I knew this was a big decision and I had to live with it. My parents got over it quickly.

It’s our job as parents to help expose our children to as many career and degree possibilities as we can, for example, they can see what you can do with a philosophy degree on this list.  We can also offer guidance to keep our kids informed on what’s realistic/achievable, and has potential. But we need to remember it’s their “dream,” not ours. And, ultimately, it’s their decision.

I like to give my kids a chance to “put their money where their mouth is” when it comes to their interests and allow them to explore their interests in new classes or sports when something peaks their curiosity. Often, the dream of becoming a gymnast or celebrity chef subsides but in some cases the dreams flourish into long-lasting hobbies and passions. Either way, they’re broadened to the exposure. It’s way too early for me to think what direction my kids may be heading after college (or even high school) but I have no problems asking them about their activities and whether a certain hobby might be something they want to pursue professionally.

How to Help A Child Find A Career Interest – Tips

  • Encourage taking classes (in and/or outside of school) that are different than what they’d normally do
  • Imply that a great deal of work needs to go a long with any interest to turn it into something they may want to eventually do for a living
  • Foster the skills they do have where they also hold a genuine interest
  • Check out these career guidance efforts by local universities – OU and OCC
  • Try not to interfere too much. Just be there and ask questions that get them thinking.

What tips do you have for How to Help A Child Find A Career Interest?

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