Most students entering high are are unsure of "what they want to do when they grow up." This is completely normal and high school is the perfect time to explore and try different activities to build self-awareness and explore interests. So, what can parents do? Here are 5 Tips:
1. Notice your teens strengths & interests. Your teen might be interested in something that they don’t realize can be pursued further. Encourage their interests (even if they don't lead to a major or career). They need to time explore and make connections. Share with your teen the strengths you notice in them and help them make connections with how they can contribute to the world with their inherent strengths.
2. Be encouraging. It is important that your teen pursues activities they are interested in (even if it’s not what you would have chosen), be encouraging so they take risks to try new clubs and participate in activities on campus. With each new activity help them reflect on what worked (or didn't) and how they will proceed. Now is the time to be a cheerleader and encourage them to try and fail. This is how they will ultimately learn who they are and who they want to be.
3. Help them develop soft skills and make connections. Encourage them to connect with their teachers and to advocate for themselves. They must go talk to their teacher and email him/her for help (not you). Teach them how to craft a professional email and how to respond to a text appropriately. Connect them to friends, relatives, neighbors, employers, coaches, and mentors. These connection are super helpful when it comes to getting their first job or applying for an internship.
4. Trust the process. Your teen will change and grow and that is what is suppose to happen. Teens developmental process is developing their self-identity. Being their mentor and encouraging them to try new activities and build their experiences will help their brain develop, help them have a deeper understanding of who they are, and help make decisions about their future. They will change their mind, question, and have doubt and this is all part of the process. Trust that they will figure it out.
5. Manage your expectations. Understand your role is to guide and advise but you can't make you teen do anything they don't want to. Your dreams for a particular college or career cannot be imposed on your teen. Allow them to discover their journey.