Encourage your child’s self-discovery by taking advantage of everyday situations to highlight their abilities.

Offer them positive and constructive comments about their successes and their challenges for improvement.

Speak, listen, observe!

Speaking, listening and observation are useful tools, and will encourage better understanding of themselves, which is one step further in their career planning.

Offer simple comments that strike a significant chord with your child. Ask pertinent questions about their strengths, their weaknesses and their successes.

  • I find that you demonstrate…
  • Your principal qualities are…
  • Which of your successes are you most proud of? Why?
  • What do you like most about being at school? In this sport? In this activity?

Talk to them about their childhood, their activities, their leisure time, their friends, what you like about them, etc. Upon reflection, these are all elements that will help your child better understand themselves.

  • Do not dampen their enthusiasm; do not judge.
  • Ask questions and show interest in their point of view so they can reflect more profoundly. Show that you care deeply about their choices and search TOGETHER for useful information.

It is normal for young people to change their minds often as they explore. The system can help. They should not look at any situation as insurmountable or as a failure.

  • Do you think that your life will be different from mine? Or that of your grandparents? Why?
  • What can help you achieve your goals?
  • What can prevent you from achieving your goals?

Encourage your child to have a Plan B, especially if they are considering a program with limited access or a path with fewer employment opportunities (i.e., police officer, firefighter, actor, archaeologist, etc.).

  • Would you like to meet somebody in this trade?
  • Can we work together to create a list of things to do to help you make this decision?
  • Would you like to visit a cégep or vocational training centre?

Support and encourage them to participate in vocational and educational workshops offered to them.

  • Would you like to visit my workplace?
  • Do you want to know how I became…?
  • Do you know what I like best about my job? What I like the least?

Always offer them a motivating and realistic image of the work world!

Pay attention to the messages you are giving (parental hopes, punishments and rewards, “you should / should not, do like that person, decide on your place,” etc.). Go ahead and give your advice but acknowledge that it is just one point of view among many others. They have a right to their own opinion. You can also suggest trades or study programs that you think they will enjoy.

Finally, be wary of infamous professional stereotypes when discussing non-traditional trades. There are girls who love mechanics as much as boys do, and boys as interested in the world of fashion as girls are.

Excerpt from:
Falardeau, I. et M. Guénette. Comment aider vos jeunes explorateurs à s’orienter dans leur vie, Septembre éditeur, 2003, 31 pages.
Quelques conseils pour aider votre jeune dans son orientation, Éric Boisvert, C.O., CSSH.