Supporting your child
Leaving school and making a choice about what to do next is a big decision. Some people see it as a landmark towards adulthood. That can make it a difficult time as a parent; we all want the best for our kids and it can be hard to stand back and let them make a decision that may be one of the most influential decisions that they ever make. The decision should be theirs, however. After all, they will be the ones doing the study and attending work. You can support your child to make this decision in a number of ways:
• Help them do lots of research about jobs, careers and study options. You might like to help them make an appointment with a TAFE NSW Career Counsellor to discuss their plans.
• Throughout your child’s life try to talk about the positive and negative aspects of your working life. Often most of what our young people hear about in relation to the world of work is adults complaining about all the things we didn’t like in our day, or over breakfast lamenting that we have to go to work and really don’t want to. This can give them a very negative view of work in general. Try to give them a more balanced view: of course you can talk about some of the things you are unhappy about, but try to mention some good things too; even if it’s just that you had a nice lunch with a colleague.
• Talk to your child about what interests them, what they are passionate about and what their goals are.
• Discuss the possibility of a gap year if they are feeling that they need a break from study for a while. This can be a wonderful opportunity to learn more about work, various careers and themselves.
• Remind them that the direction they take can change: it’s better to try something, even if you discover it isn’t right for you than do nothing and feel stuck with the weight of the decision. At least now they know something more about themselves and the sort of things they don’t like.
The world of work and planning your career may have changed since you were a young person making these decisions:
• Increased rate of change – your child is unlikely to be able to have just one job in their lifetime. They will need to constantly retrain and keep up-to-date as jobs change, some even disappearing completely, and other new careers emerging.
• More options – this can be daunting for your children trying to make a decision on what they want to do
• There is now a much greater focus on interest than on aptitude in career decision making. Whereas you may have been guided to choose your career path based on what you were good at, these days most career decisions are based on interest first. Of course, you need to be good at the tasks too, but generally it has been found that if you enjoy a task you are probably fairly good at it and enjoying it is a better indicator of future success than aptitude alone. You need to support your child to figure out what skills they enjoy using and how to build a successful career using those skills.