What do you want to be when you grow up?

It’s a fine line between parental pressure and parental influence what it comes to your child’s future career.

If you could go back in time, what would you say to a 5-year-old you?

After all – All Black, fireman, ballerina, doctor, homemaker, prime minister, pop star or chef extraordinaire – your ideal career when you were a child is often different from what you end up doing.

The reasons are varied. Firstly, your ideal childhood career goal may not be realistic. There aren’t too many ads for well-paid superhero jobs. Secondly, it may be that someone told you that you couldn’t or weren’t suited to it, and you believed them. Thirdly, it could be that you had a totally unrealistic idea of what the career involved. Being a doctor may sound like a romantic idea, but if you can’t stand the sight of blood, you’re in trouble. Fourthly, you may have been coerced into the career your parents wanted for you, and lastly – and this is the worst – you were afraid to try.

It’s true – 5-years-old is a bit young to have a firm career goal. But parents serve as a major influence in their child’s career development and career decision-making from an early age. Parents want their children to find happiness and success in life when they grow up, and a career is a big part of that.

If there’s one problem with that, it’s that parents often believe that they know what’s best for their child and unwittingly push them towards it.

But the good news is that research shows that when kids feel supported and loved by their parents, they have more confidence in their own ability to research and choose a career. That’s important because adolescents who feel competent regarding career decision-making tend to make more satisfying career choices later in life.

Where parents can really help is by giving kids the tools they need to be able to make a career choice with confidence. That includes their education, their knowledge-base about work and different occupations; the beliefs and attitudes they have towards working; and their motivation to succeed. Experts say that most of this is learned unconsciously – children and teenagers absorb their parents’ attitudes and expectations of them as they grow up.

Some key influencers are:

•    The expectations parents have for their children’s education and career.

•    The example they set for their children.

•    The values they show to their family, friends and to society.

•    The opportunities they offer their children to learn and develop.

•    The kind of parent-child relationship they develop.

Tips to help your child’s career development:

•    Encourage your children to get as much education as possible.

•    Help them to discover their innate talents and skills.

•    Develop their knowledge of the world of work.

•    Teach them decision-making skills.

•    Value gender equity and cultural diversity.

•    Become aware of career resources/ education and training opportunities.

•    Observe the effects of work experience.

Psychologists Bregan and Killen examined the influence that parents have on their children’s career development and concluded that it’s best to start exploring career choices with your kids early on, rather than waiting until they have to make important course decisions in high school. If the process is started early, they said, there was less chance of kids making unwise decisions.

In the event that kids sound off unwise career ideas, parents should guard against shooting down their kids ideas completely. A negative reaction may shut down the whole exploration process. Instead, keep the lines of communication open and encourage your child to research as much as possible.

– See more at: http://www.familytimes.co.nz/articles/what-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up/#sthash.77ctbS9J.dpuf