Helping Kids Make Early Career Choices Written by: Dwight Bain, LMHC

The stress facing today's generation of young people looking for their first job is huge. Many older children, or young teens automatically expect they will experience 'reality TV' levels of instant success with five easy steps to land the job of their dreams; but it just ain't so! Thankfully there are some changes you can make now to help your son or daughter move forward and gain strength through the process of early career assessment and job development.

Everyone loves a great worker with a great attitude, but what can you do during the elementary or middle school years to better insure that your son or daughter's favorite pastime is building a positive future instead of ignoring it and settling for lots of promises with little to show for it? Career issues are a challenge for many adults, since the research tells us that the majority of Americans work a job they can't stand and often feel trapped into staying until retirement even if they worry they may not be able to physically keep up the pace. Obviously, if you as a parent aren't satisfied with your current working environment or career experience, then that would be the place to begin so that you are reaching out to your son or daughter from a position of strength and positive focus in guiding them toward exploring opportunities. (See the book, "Now Discover your Strengths" by Marcus Buckingham & Donald Clifton for more on this strategic concept for career success)

The complexities of this day and age are many, ranging from the economy to affordable housing arrangements all while beginning a professional career in the early twenties. These job pressures bring many challenges back to the surface for both parents and older kids to figure out. It's been my experience that too often parents aren't spending time guiding their sons and daughters into building on their strengths as a springboard into a successful future career. I've been working on a new book called "FastTrack to Success- moving from college stress to career success". to guide young adults through each step of building a successful life with finances, career decisions, relationships and making responsible choices that build a better future. Some of the principles are outlined in this article to guide you in using teachable moments to encourage kids while still in school to consider taking the "FastTrack" to build career success as early as possible so they avoid many of the problems that come during late adolescence from boredom or the fear of growing up.

Sometimes there are unresolved issues which have been building tension for years between a child who feels motivated in one career direction, while mom or dad always had their heart set on that child becoming something else. For example, like the pressure to become the first medical doctor in the family; which is the wrong reason to pursue an advanced degree. If you go after a lot of education mostly to please a parent or other relative, it can often end up creating dissatisfaction and eventual failure. That's why it makes no sense to argue and fuss about career issues, instead treat this very important career discussion with your older sons or daughters like you would with an important business decision-just the facts, tied to some specific action points. How to map out a family meeting on this important issue is outlined below to guide you through the process of honestly addressing some key areas.

Solve problems early by setting an appointment to sit down with a legal pad and sort through the answers to the following questions together
When were you first interested in this career field and why did you pick this area to specialize in?
What is it about this career that you are most excited or passionate about?
When can you move into this career field and what certifications or degrees will you need to start?
Who do you know that has done well in this field and have you sought their advice to guide you?
Explain the details of how you will move from having career aspirations into developing career achievements?
Family stress is often solved with the use of a family meeting, especially when there are no limitations placed on the freedom to talk about anything.
Family stress is often solved with the use of a family meeting, especially when there are no limitations placed on the freedom to talk about anything respectfully. Remember, when parents and kids can sort through the pressures they feel verbally, it gives them extra time to sort through challenging issues to come to better conclusions.

Second, building the value of important family traditions by openly talking about issues through daily rituals can reduce conflicts by getting things out onto the table sooner. Remember - it's better to have a little more tension today than to allow things to gradually worsen and totally unravel later.

Third, silence isn't golden, it's creates huge pressures and allows huge problems to erupt. Everyone in the family need to be talking about the world of work in one way or another.

Fourth, are you on track with the details of your family plan, including timing, costs, benefits, values, educational requirements and such, so there is the potential for some emotions to rise as each person sorts through the issues. Keep in mind that the primary goal is to come to a decision to best guide this young person toward early career success, so if tension is building, it may be wise to take a short break, or schedule another meeting to allow some of the information to be addressed when emotions have calmed down. Wisely guiding a young adult through this process is a challenge, however, it may solve years of wasted time in the wrong career field just to stubbornly "prove a point."

When parents and kids can sort through the pressures they feel verbally it gives them the extra time to sort through the most challenging issues and come to better conclusions. Remember that building the value of this important family tradition of talking, listening and guiding our children into building daily rituals will reduce conflicts for everyone by getting issues on the table sooner. Better to have a little more tension today than to allow things to gradually worsen and unravel later. One path leads toward isolation, fear and long term frustration, while the other one leads toward early career success. Parents know which path they would pick for their kids- but until the child makes that choice on a personal level- their future career may end up blocked in fear for twenty years or longer. Taking action today is always the answer to experience a better life tomorrow.

For more helpful information on building strong kids and great relationships, contact the LifeWorks Group at or call (407) 647-7005
About the Author
Nationally Certified Counselor in practice since 1984 with a focus of bringing positive change to highly complex situations. Has spoken to over 1,000 business groups on the topic of making strategic changes to overcome stress and achieve greater success, both professionally & personally. Corporate clients include: Toyota, State Farm, Harcourt, DuPont & Disney. Organizational clients include the US Army, Florida Hospital & the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation. Quoted by: The New York Times, The Orlando Sentinel & New Man Magazine.
Motivating people to change with big thinking and bold action is the strategic focus of the LifeWorks Group
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