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5 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Their First Occupation*

 
As parents, it’s difficult to know what the future holds for our kids. Technology is changing at an exponential rate, and so is the job market. Occupations that were lucrative and growing a decade ago are now obsolete. New career paths are popping up all the time. We may be able to prepare our children for their first job, but what about their first real occupation? Thankfully, we don’t need specialized training to help prepare them for the career of their dreams. As our kids grow up, we can equip them with the skills they need to be successful.

Encourage Curiosity
When I was growing up, my parents answered all my questions with, “curiosity killed the cat.” Young children ask silly questions all the time, and it’s easy to give them silly answers. Instead, we should be encouraging their curiosity! Curious children are motivated to learn, to solve problems, and to overcome obstacles. Let them ask questions and support their curiosity. That doesn’t mean giving them all the answers. Teach them how to search for answers themselves through research and experimentation. Share your own curiosity and search for answers with them. Curiosity in young children can lead to innovation in adults. Kids who wonder how things work become adults who make things work better.

Foster Independence
Children want to be independent. They want to dress themselves, pack their own lunches, and do their own homework. They will fight you for their independence, so let them have it. Give children space to figure things out on their own. They may struggle, but they will build self-confidence. When they are very young, let them make their own decisions about little things. Let them dress themselves or make their own lunch. They will not always make choices you approve of, but they will value your trust. As your children grow into teenagers, they will have more important decisions to make. They are choosing high school classes, hobbies, and even their friends. Give them guidance and support, but let them make their own decisions. Independent kids are decisive adults. They will be confident in their ability to make an informed, intelligent choice.

Develop Responsibility
You can’t have responsible children without giving them responsibility. Give your kids chores. When kids contribute to the household, they learn that their actions directly affect those around them. The responsibility of the chore should grow with your child. When they are mature enough, raise the stakes by having them pitch in with more important work. This could mean cooking meals, helping to care for younger siblings, or even balancing the budget.

When your kids are old enough, you could give them the opportunity to contribute financially. Kids as young as fifteen can get a part time job, allowing them to cover many of their own expenses. If this is right for your family, be sure you are open about the financial impact of their hard work. Figure up the impact their new job has on the family budget. Are they paying for their own gas? Buying their own lunch at school? Consider putting those extra pennies in a savings account for a special occasion, like a family vacation. Seeing a tangible result of their hard work will help them understand the impact of responsibility.

Let Them Fail
We all struggle with parenting sometimes. We are just trying to do what’s best for our kids, and that looks different for everyone. Whatever you do, please don’t be a bulldozer parent. It’s great to give children opportunities, but removing every obstacle from their path can cause more harm than good. Kids who don’t learn to deal with adversity are plagued with anxiety, perfectionism, and indecision. They avoid risk and crumble under pressure. Failing leads to innovation, grit, and work ethic. Young children don’t avoid risk, they embrace it! Even when it scares us to death, they will jump off the jungle gym or pick up a bug in the back yard. Even failed endeavors can still be positive experiences for kids. As my high school theatre teacher used to say, “if we fail, let’s fail magnificently.”

Build a Growth Mindset
Growth mindset is essentially the belief that we can work to develop our skills. Sure, everyone has talents and abilities. A fixed mindset tells us that we are “good” or “bad” at something, and those abilities can’t change. A growth mindset tells us that we can work hard to improve our abilities. So, don’t let any success (or failure) go to waste! Praise your children for their effort, no matter the result. Teach them to learn from their mistakes! A growth mindset helps children become confident, capable adults.

Occupations are changing, and so are the skills that young people need to be successful. Recruiters, HR directors, and hiring managers are looking for 21st century skills. To be competitive in the job market of the future, young professionals need more than a specialized degree. We can foster creativity, grit, and work ethic in our children. Those skills will prepare them for success in any occupation.


Byline:
Ron Stefanski is the founder of JobsForTeensHQ.com and has a passion for helping teenagers find jobs. He created the website because he feels that teenagers need to focus on their professional passions much earlier in life and aims to teach them how they can do that. When he’s not working on his website, Ron is a college professor and loves to travel the world.

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