Helping Your Children Make Career Choices

Cheerful mother and son using digital tablet
••• You and your child can read about a variety of occupations. Dean Mitchell / Vetta / Getty Images

Get an Early Start

If you are the parent of a pre-teen or young teenager it is likely that your child's career choice is the furthest thing from your mind. You, and they, are probably more concerned with grades, friends, sports and other interests at this point, as you, and they, should be. That doesn't mean you can't add career choice to your list of things to start thinking about.

While a pre-teen or teen is not yet ready to settle on a career choice, this is great time to begin exploring many different occupations.

Since many children are only aware of the small number of occupations to which they are exposed, for example doctor, dentist, teacher and whatever it is their parents and relatives do, exploring occupations is a great way to get them to realize there are many options available to them.

How You Can Help Your Children Explore Occupations

When one is young, the future's possibilities are endless. A pre-teen or teen can look at a variety of occupations without the critical eye one must have later on. There are many ways to explore occupations and parents are a key component in helping their children with this process. Here is what you should do:
  • Keep Your Opinions to Yourself: Try not to discourage your child from exploring a particular career, even if you think it's all wrong for him.
  • Network: Use your connections to set up opportunities for your child to meet with people working in various occupations.
  • Protect Your Kids: Make sure you know who your children are contacting to get information about careers. Accompany your child if he or she is meeting with someone. Read all email correspondence.

Read About Occupations

The easiest way to learn about an occupation is by reading about it. There are many  career books in public and school libraries.
A lot of information is also available on the Web. The  US Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes  career information geared specifically to students.

Live It

While reading about an occupation may be easy, it can also be ... well ... not very interesting. Kids like hands-on experiences, where they can learn about an occupation by talking about it or better yet experiencing it.

One way to experience an occupation is through job shadowing. A child can visit an adult at work to see what the day to day activities are.

In 1993, the Ms. Foundation for Women created Take Our Daughters to Work® Day. Held annually on the fourth Thursday of April and renamed Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, this special day is dedicated to helping girls and boys learn to work together "to bring about a more equitable world — at home, at school and in the workplace."

Many communities have career clubs to help children find out about career possibilities. Presenters come to club meetings to tell members about their jobs and field trips may be arranged for members to visit work sites. Youth organizations, such as the Girl Scouts may incorporate a career component into their programs.