Helping Teens Define What They Want to Do

By Kathryn Hatter
Parents are in an ideal position of guiding a teen down a career path.
Parents are in an ideal position of guiding a teen down a career path.

Teens have many challenges and tasks as they approach adulthood. One of the objectives of the teenage years involves finding a niche and narrowing interests. While it’s not necessary to nail down the teen’s life course, it can be helpful if a teen defines what she wants to do after high school.

Observe your Teen

As your teenager goes about his activities and pursuits, watch and observe him carefully. You may find clues about his interests, gifts, dreams and natural abilities. For example, if your teen can’t get enough music and participates enthusiastically in band, choir and every extra-curricular musical activity, it’s likely that he has both interest and natural abilities in the musical field. Similarly, if your teen seeks out technological clubs and opportunities in school, he may have abilities that center on technology.

Ask Questions

Engage your teen and ask open-ended questions, suggests Holly B. Tiret with the Michigan State University Extension. With the clues you’ve collected from observation, you should have one or two directions on which to focus questions. The goal: Encourage your teen to think about interests, desires and passions. As your teen considers and contemplates options and possibilities, provide support and guidance to help your child discriminate between unrealistic dreams and possible goals.

Provide Resources

Your teen will need information and resources as she considers what she wants to do with her life. If you have family or know personal or professional acquaintances with expertise or experience related to your teen’s interest, connect your teen with this person to provide first-hand information. Encourage your teenager to speak with a guidance counselor, suggests Tiret. With an idea of interests and direction, ask the guidance counselor for recommendations on specific schools with specialization or degree programs fitting your child’s interests. Consider enrolling your teen in extra-curricular classes and seminars to help her explore her interests.

Guide without Pushing

Parents can play a significant role in helping children define and determine a career path, according to Florida Atlantic University. In fact, children may even select more rigorous and challenging courses when parents stay involved in the selection process. Above all, provide respectful support for your teenager, remembering that your job is to assist, not direct, your teen’s course. A career path can be an ideal way for your teen to use new decision-making skills, states the Kids Health website.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.