Guidance starts at the very beginning, based on your child’s personality and passions. The better your child knows himself, the more informed he’ll be when it comes to making career choices. Pay close attention to his professional interests, even if they change over time. This will give you an insight into what motivates him deeply. Discuss his interests and future aspirations with him as he progresses through school. Encourage him to explore his talents and develop his “life project”. Ask him questions like “What motivates you in life?” or “What do you like about this or that activity?”
Involve your child in decisions that concern him/her (while maintaining your role as decision-making parent). For example, invite your child to give his or her opinion at meetings with teachers. This will get him used to playing an active role in decisions affecting his life. In this way, when your child has to make important choices about his or her career in 3rd, 10th and 12th grade, he or she will naturally be involved.
Remind him that even if he’s in a course of study he didn’t choose, nothing is irreversible. They can always change direction, provided they give themselves the means to do so. These days, it’s increasingly common to build a professional career by exploring different trades.
Every child has a potential that is often underestimated. To boost self-confidence and develop their potential, it’s best to help them become aware of their existing skills, rather than focusing on their weaknesses. Rather than saying “You’re not at the right level in this subject to pursue this career”, you can say “If you really want to pursue this career in the future, you’ll have to make progress in this subject. Are you ready to put in place the necessary resources?”. It’s essential to help children identify with their potential (their skills and qualities) rather than their shortcomings. This will make it easier for them to achieve their life goals, as they will see themselves as “capable” rather than “incompetent”.
Explain to your child that his or her schooling will contribute to the realization of his or her life plans in the future. Some school subjects may seem abstract and far removed from everyday life, but the more you can make sense of them, the more motivated they will be.
If you have a job, discuss it with your child and explain your daily tasks. If possible, take him to your workplace to show him how a company works, as this often remains abstract for young people. However, make sure you don’t unintentionally influence them in your direction.
If your child already has a clear idea of her future profession, encourage her to meet professionals in the field, ideally at their place of work. For example, if your daughter wants to become a veterinarian, help her organize an internship in a veterinary clinic during her 3rd grade class. If your child lacks specific ideas, suggest that she attend career fairs or consult a career advisor.
It’s common to rely more on outside influences to make decisions, but developing an “inner reference point” is essential for successful and fulfilling guidance. Foster your child’s self-confidence and encourage him to listen to his inner feelings. This will help them to make more autonomous decisions, rather than conforming to the expectations of others without reflection.
In conclusion, it’s important to take the time to discuss your child’s interests and passions with him or her. After a few discussions, you’ll know more about your child’s interests.