How can I help my child with their career choices?

Leaving college or university is a huge step in life for someone. They are setting foot into the 'adult world', still learning about themselves whilst thinking about their future. Once you leave college or further education, you leave behind a structured and supported environment. So, how can you help your child make this transition more of a smooth one? 


As a parent, we want the best for our children. I know this because I am lucky enough to be a parent. Now, one thing I am seeing more and more of is 18-25 year olds (and older) leaving the education system and going into jobs that they really don't enjoy. This could be due to a multitude of things: 

  • there are no openings in the career they studied for
  • they feel the pressure to earn money
  • they don't want to feel they are failing
  • they struggle to get into work full stop

It bothers me how little careers guidance children get when they are in the education system but that's a topic for another day!

Now, it can be very easy to think your child is being lazy. They may not have any get up and go. They would much rather be in their room all day watching Netflix or gaming. If you look deeper however you may see that your child is actually feeling lost and very low in confidence. Often this is followed by low motivation. What you are seeing at a surface level is the actions they are doing i.e. sitting in their room all day, etc. This is the result of low confidence and a sense of feeling lost. 

So how can you help them? 

Have open conversations 

Sounds really obvious right? Maybe you feel like you've already been doing this. The main difference is the context of the conversation. Have you started the conversation by telling them all they do is sit in their room all day? It can be so easy to do this as it frustrates you seeing them seemingly do nothing. Unfortunately, whilst your intentions are good, many teens/early adults will view this as my parents 'nagging me'.

So a different approach is needed. You know your child the best. When are they at their happiest? What do they enjoy doing? Timing is everything. Speak to them when they are doing something they enjoy. You will tend to find (like most of us) they will be a lot more open to conversation and advice. Simple questions like 'How are you getting on looking at careers?' or 'Have you had any more thoughts on xyz that you were interested in?' You may be surprised how open they may be with you. 

If your child is currently working but unhappy in their job, you can use the same approach as above, just tailor it to their situation.

Be relatable 

I always remember when I was 17, I had a conversation with an 'adult'. They proceeded to tell me that 'in their day, we just did whatever job we could find and it was a case of just getting on with it.' I didn't respond well to this. I remember thinking 'how does that help me?' and 'is it just potluck if I end up in a job I like?' 

Talk to them from a level of understanding. You were in their shoes at one point. You may have gone through the same experiences. Share it with them. Share your mistakes so they don't have to make them. Relatability is key. It makes them feel like they are not the only ones who are going through this. 

Ask them what they want in life 

People are driven by things that are important to them. For example, for a younger person, it could be wanting to own their own property or have a nice car. Yes, these are materialistic things but these are the things that appeal the most. The things that are viewed as rewards for doing the hard work and finding the career that fulfils them.

People are interested in the results. There is an exercise I get all my clients to do. I ask them to visualise what it would look like to them when they have achieved their goals. I will ask them to describe it to me. What they are able to do or have as a result of finding their ideal career. Then we work backwards by looking at the steps needed in order to achieve. 

Speak to a career coach

Sometimes, as much as you try to help, there is that invisible block. You may know the one I'm talking about. 'Oh it's just mum or dad nagging at me!' As frustrating as that can be, don't be disheartened. Some people simply respond better by listening to an outside point of view. A good career coach will explore the client's current situation, find out what motivates them and then help them develop a plan to achieve their goal of finding the right career. By putting your child in touch with a career coach, you are helping them and, in the future, they may well thank you for it!

There's no book on parenting and it can be a challenging and trying journey. It can be hard to watch your child struggle as they navigate the early parts of their life. At the end of the day, you want what is best for them. 

If the above has resonated with you and you're ready to seek further support, please feel free to get in touch. I am a careers coach who works with 18-30 year olds and I am passionate about helping young people develop their futures. You can contact me through the email button below or give me a call on the number on my profile.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Boston, Lincs, PE20
Written by Adam Craft, Helping people find the career they desire.
Boston, Lincs, PE20

Adam Craft is a Life & Career coach, focused on helping 18-30-year-olds identify their ideal career path & supporting them to take the required steps to achieve.

Adam started Practice Positive Coaching after going through his own challenges personally. This gave him the desire to help others find their desired careers and future direction.

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