This article is written by Ms. Vibha Kagzi, Founder and Chief Education Officer, Reachivy.com
As children, we are fascinated by characters and roles that we come across in life and fiction. Astronaut, magician, ballet dancer, explorer, and a never-ending list of ‘what I want to be when I grow up’ overwhelm our childhood fancy.
Our mind creates an endless stream of wondrous dreams in our formative years that as adults we probably consider wishful thinking, but doesn’t every success story start with a dream?Your child has his/her share of dreams and as a parent, you must be concerned about whether it’s the right dream for your youngster. This is your cue to be your child’s dreamcatcher.
Help him/her identify the right path, and set him/her on it while you become the beacon to guide your little one throughout. Here are the dos and don’ts to direct your child on their journey to achieve his/her dream career:
Know your child’s dream: As parents, we have a natural instinct to impart our own wish-fulfilment to our children – “I always wanted to become…now I want my child to fulfill my dreams”. However, as parents the challenge is to overcome this inclination and focus on what our children want, are good at and capable of.
It is important that parents understand their ward’s aspirations and make an effort to learn more about the possibilities and the options. The moment your child realizes how sincere you are about his/her dreams, it’ll give his/her confidence an enormous push and boost his/her determination to succeed.
Acknowledge the dream: Even if it sounds unrealistic, embrace the idea. Be positive and encouraging when your child shares his/her career plans with you. Hear him/her out and give free reign to your child to gather more details about the courses, colleges and career opportunities in that field.
Let your child self-realise whether his/her chosen path is the right one for him/her. By giving importance to your young one’s choice, you’ll win his/her trust and smooth your access to his/her heart. It’s imperative that you are clued in about his/her thoughts, ideology, influences and are there to review your child’s progress in terms of preparation and due diligence. Your active cooperation will keep him/her motivated and focused.
Act like a consultant: Whether we are 6 or 60 years old, the rebel rises in us if we find someone dictating us. However, we readily welcome suggestions and tips. When working with your young-adult child, sound like a professional and mean business. Sit with your child and draw an action plan. Here are a few tips that you can provide to get him/her started:
- Write down their dreams and why they want to pursue them: This will allow your child to introspect about his/her choice, be aware of and concretely visualize his/her goal
- Do their homework: Whether research, collating information, shadowing professionals and connecting with them, the more your child finds out, the better informed he/she will be about the requirements and can prepare likewise.
- Work to build a good academic profile: Whichever stream your child wants to pursue, he/she must be academically proficient. Inspire him/her to work towards the A’s to fulfill his/her dreams.
- Help them find internships: Sound hands-on knowledge of theoretical concepts will make a difference in your child’s confidence in his/her chosen field. It will also help him/her identify if this is the right profession for him/her. In addition, it’ll enhance his/her performance as well as add weight to the resume.
- Encourage them to participate in extra-curricular activities: It’ll help your child blossom into a well-rounded personality. Today, every profession calls for versatile candidates. He/she will also be equipped with diverse skill sets and reap the fruit of myriad opportunities.
- Plan a timeline: Discuss with your child about a realistic timeline by which he/she will build and settle in his/her career. Each stream will allow for a different time span. The time you’ll take to be an established professional in the medical field will be different from what you need to be a Chartered Accountant. However, approach it as an important project with a deadline and orient your child accordingly. This is another way of training him/her to develop a professional mindset. Above all, a definitive timeline will help your child monitor his/her own progress and remain enthusiastic.
Be your child’s support system: Just as you are grooming your child to be independent in his/her choices and pursuits, ready to lend your shoulder when your young one falters or faces roadblocks. Do not pick him/her up but provide the strength to rise and move on. Expose your child to failure and mistakes so that he/she can decide right the next time. However, have your strategy to step in and resolve issues if your child cannot manage. You can act as his/her resource bank for financial assistance, advice and occasionally for contacts.
Restrain yourself from frequent interference: Though you want to confirm that all’s well with your child’s progress, do not keep trailing him/her too often on his plans or encroach his/her privacy at random. It will have an adverse effect on your child will conclude that you do not trust him/her. Strategically ask for an update at the dinner table or initiate a pleasant family talks to extract details from your child.
Tell yourself not to be your child’s alter ego: If your child’s plans fail to work, do not moralize or criticize him/her for going wrong. It will not only erode his/her confidence but affect your child’s optimism, self-reliance and overall attitude towards taking initiative. Tell him/her to err is human, and failures are part of every journey. Help him/her design an alternative and advise your little one to always have a backup plan as a buffer – So what if you couldn’t crack the medical entrance, you can choose genetic engineering or be a biochemist.
Do not make your doubts obvious to your child: You might feel unsure or have questions about your child’s career preference. Do not be cynical about you’re his/her dreams. Remember your little one has pinned his/her hopes on it and cherishes it. You can share your reasons and let your child come up with his/her opinions. Talk it out together and clear the doubts.
Helping our children achieve their career dreams is one of our crucial agendas. However, we shouldn’t forget that the dream is for our children to experience, hence we must involve them in the process. It’s a shared responsibility between parents and children and only a beautiful partnership can help children accomplish a successful future. After all, as Maya Rudolph said, “To have your childhood dream realized is a really big deal”.