6 tips for introducing jobs to children
Whether we notice it or not, children are constantly observing the world around them, taking in information and trying to understand what they are experiencing. This includes what jobs adults are doing. The following tips make it easy to start a conversation with kids to help them explore different career paths.
Tip 1 - Expose children to different career options.
Children often only see what jobs their loved ones have. They usually only think of the professions of their parent(s), relatives, neighbors and last but not least the professions of main characters from TV shows, films and books. Apart from the professions they see in their immediate environment, they hear little about other career paths. Therefore, it’s not surprising that children often want to become the same as their parent figure or as their favorite TV character.
Tip 2 - Don’t discourage interests.
Don't be the person who discourages your child's interests, but be the person who supports their interests and encourages their strengths. This way you can give your child advice about what they would be good at and explain to them about important aspects that come with different jobs. For different jobs, think of the skills you must have, the number of years of study that comes along with it, the salary and the number of hours they work a week.
But don't forget, when we’re speaking to children - fantasy plays a big role in their job interests!
Tip 3 - Don't gender stereotype jobs.
Some children may think that a woman cannot be an athlete, footballer or in the army and that men should not work as a beautician or in healthcare. “The tough professions are for the men and the caring jobs are for the women” they are often told. But nothing could be further from the truth. Boys can also be very caring and girls are just as tough as boys!
Be careful not to gender stereotype jobs as a parent. Show your child that anything is possible! Does your son want to be a professional ballet dancer or does your daughter want to work for the police? That's really cool, let’s break the gender stereotype!
Tip 4 - Use the power of play & imagination
Children learn best when they play. By giving children the opportunity to play with toys related to specific jobs, you are playfully explaining different professions. Think of costumes, dolls that have a certain profession or objects that we associate with professions such as a stethoscope or police cap.
Tip 5 - Ask them to imagine their future.
If your child is a little older, another great way to talk about jobs is to ask them about their future. Do you want to study a lot or just a bit? Do you want to start something by yourself or do you want to work for someone else? How do you want to spend your time? Do you want children or not? Keep it up. By talking about your child's future, they realize better that you can't just choose a certain path in life, but that you really have to work for it.
Does your child have no idea how they want to shape their future? That doesn't matter at all! Tell them they have their whole life to figure out what they are good at and what they love to do.
Tip 6 - Remember it’s their career, not yours.
It’s important to remember that your child's career choice is not your own. Have you always wanted to become a real estate agent, but have you never had the opportunity to study for this and you now want your child to become a real estate agent? We understand, but this is your child's life and ultimately your child has to decide for themselves where their interests lie and where they don’t. Help them with their choices, give them advice, but in the end it's their choice.