Career Planning for Children

Difficult Issues for Teens Approaching Adulthood

Career and Education

Planning for a career and education is a common difficulty for teens approaching adulthood. Career planning with your teens helps them develop their roles and use their experiences to create the life they want, explains the Alberta Employment and Immigration’s teen career planning guide. In other words, when deciding on an educational and career path, your teen is essentially being asked to envision what he wants out of life. This can be a difficult task for an adolescent with limited life experience.

Independent Living Skills

As your teen approaches adulthood, she will need to develop the skills necessary not only to support herself financially, but also manage her own household and activities of daily living. These activities include paying bills, cleaning, preparing food and seeking out medical care. Although your child has likely learned many of these activities from observing you and other adults -- and indeed, may have practiced these skills at home -- executing independent living activities without parental supervision can be difficult and daunting for some teens.

Identity Issues

Establishing a sense of identity has traditionally been regarded as the central task of adolescence, according to the American Psychological Association. Although adolescents begin to struggle with identity issues at the onset of puberty, as they reach adulthood, these issues still remain salient. Older teens may struggle to define their own values and examine the ways in which their beliefs and interests fit in with both your family and with their peer group.

Separation from the Family

When teenagers display rebellious behavior, this is one of the mechanisms by which they begin to separate themselves from your family and explore autonomous living. Although your teen may be excited about the prospect of moving away to college or getting her own apartment, separating from your family is also a great source of difficulty for many teens. As such, it's important that your teen knows he is still a member of the family even when he lives outside the house, explains the Government of South Australia’s Women's and Children’s Health Network.

Career Goal Exercises for Teens

Implementing a Plan

Developing a career plan could open up opportunities for your teen, as it makes it possible for her to begin following her dream. She can start by considering her interests, researching her possible career options and analyzing each one. She can narrow down her choices based on how important each aspect of the career is to her. If she feels as though enjoyment is more important than money, she should focus on careers that she will enjoy, regardless of the pay. Next, she can make a tentative choice and move towards her end goal. She should reflect on these choices periodically and make the necessary adjustments if she wants to change her course, according to the Idaho Career Information System.

Trying It Out

It is impossible for your teen to know how much he will enjoy a career until he has some relevant experience. While it might be difficult to find a job in his desired field while in high school, he can probably find a part time job that requires some of the same skills. For example, if he would be working as part of a team in his career, he can take a job at a fast food restaurant, suggests If he enjoys working with others in this environment, there is a good chance that he will enjoy it in the future.

Skill Development

Gaining experience in a particular field is important in a job search and it is never too soon to begin. Job shadowing can help your child learn about the day-to-day requirements of a particular job, while taking an internship provides an even more hands-on environment by submersing the teen in the workplace. Some organizations will even allow teens to volunteer, according to the University of Washington, which looks great on a resume and can further the teen's occupational skills.

Speaking with Professionals

There is no better way to learn about a career than by speaking with those who are already involved in it. Professionals in your teen's desired field can provide her with much needed advice, reports TeensHealth, which can provide career guidance that she will not find elsewhere. Most professionals will take the time to speak with a young student and this information can help form a career path.

Helping Teens Define What They Want to Do

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.

How to Increase Assertiveness in Children

Encourage your child to speak up when she wants something, advises KidsHealth. When you ask her if she wants to play outside or inside and she responds by telling you she doesn’t know, encourage her to take a second to think about it and speak up. Saying she doesn’t know is passive and doesn't display assertiveness. When she wants something or has an opinion, encourage her to speak up, even if you cannot accommodate her at the moment.

Model assertiveness for your child, advises Pediatric Services. If your husband asks what you want for dinner and you are tempted to tell him that you’ll have whatever he wants, stop yourself and tell him exactly what you want. When you model assertiveness, your child is more likely to learn to be assertive. Some children don’t realize that there is an option between being pushed around and being bossy, and seeing you model that middle ground teaches them they can do the same.

Teach your child to be assertive while still being respectful. When people disagree with her, encourage her to keep her voice calm and refrain from calling them names or accusing them of being wrong. It may help her to be more assertive when she learns that her opinion is just as important as everyone else’s and that there is no right or wrong when it comes to opinions.

Discipline her behavior rather than her personality, advises Pediatric Services. If she’s whining, tell her you don’t like her behavior at the moment rather than telling her to stop acting like a brat. When you criticize her personality she may begin to feel that she’s unworthy of an opinion, which can cause her self-esteem to plummet and her assertiveness level to drop.

Encourage your child to practice being assertive at all times, such as asking someone to pass the milk at breakfast, advises KidsHealth. Small acts of assertiveness can help her build up to being more assertive in public places, such as school.

Job Benefits for Kids in High School

Keep Kids Safe

Some high school students may be at risk of engaging in risky activities after school. Students who are at risk for getting into trouble often benefit from an after school job because they are being supervised, and because they have less time on their hands to find trouble. The responsibility of having a job might also help your teen phase out of his risky behavioral habits so that he's less inclined to get into trouble.

Taking Control of Finances

Another benefit of having a job while in high school is that it teaches the teenager to learn about managing his money. The student also learns about withholding taxes and how to budget his money for the coming weeks before he gets another paycheck. Working also sets the climate for parental discussions on financial management, investing and spending responsively.

Confidence Building

A job gives teenagers empowerment and a feeling of autonomy from making his own money. The student becomes more self-confident when he is given job duties to perform that may result in a good review from his supervisor or even a raise in pay. Other ways working helps raise self-esteem include the positive feedback from customers and recognition of fellow co-workers, who may even be students themselves.

Career Ideas

Although many part-time, after school jobs do not inspire a teenager to make a career choice, some jobs might spark an interest in a field that the teen never even thought of. Having a positive relationship with his supervisor can help foster a teenager's interest in a particular career path such as managing a restaurant, working in a law office or considering a managerial career in retail. Many people who work in the restaurant industry often say that restaurant work is in their blood, often because they worked in the food business since high school.

What Is the Difference Between Teens Who Work During High School & Teens Who Don't?

Work Experience

According to Jeylan Mortimer, a professor of the Department of Sociology at the University of Minnesota, work experience -- when moderate in intensity -- promotes healthy development. High school jobs can be extremely beneficial for students who lack the interest and resources to pursue a college degree after graduation. While the student may not benefit financially as much as a student who goes on to obtain a four-year degree, securing a steady job with career potential is an accomplishment. The Child Development Institute states that parents can help teach their teens the value of the money they earn along with budgeting skills by assisting them in opening up a savings and checking account.


The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding states that jobs held by teens during the school years may have negative affects on students' grades. It can be difficult for students to balance their school work with their job hours, extra-curricular activities and family commitments. At the same time, Mortimer points out that valuable growth can take place when parents work with teens to successfully balance a job and school, teaching their teens important time-management skills that will serve them well in college and beyond.

Drug and Alcohol Exposure

Because of the lack of supervision in many areas of employment, your working teen risks being exposed to illegal substances at a higher rate. Your teen may also be working with older co-workers who are able to legally purchase alcohol for him. Though, research done for the 2010 Youth Development Study reveals that engaging in substance abuse tends to be an issue only in teens who have already exhibited problem behavior.

Vocational Development

According to Mortimer, parents should encourage their teens to seek out jobs that provide opportunities to learn about and explore possible career interests, rather than jobs that require a great deal of training and responsibility. Mortimer also encourages jobs that allow teens to visit a variety of workplaces rather than one single workplace during the high school years. For this reason, volunteering, internships and "job shadowing" are beneficial in providing variety and nurturing potential vocational interests, and may give your teen an added sense of direction for college and career pursuits.