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Nurturing Your Child’s Ambitions

When duwa finishes her A/Levels, she’s going to become a doctorsaid Padmini proudly, patting Rathika’s head. What many people didn’t know was that ever since she sketched her first stick-figure in a sari, Rathika had always dreamt of becoming a fashion designer. How could she tell her parents this when they were so set on seeing her in medical college? Like many children in Sri Lanka in the same situation, Rathika kept quiet.

They say when it comes to ambition; all people can be divided into two main categories:

  • Type A people, who tend to be highly ambitious and driven
  • Type B people, who tend to be easy going-flowing with the tide instead of directing it

When a Type A parent gives birth to a Type B child, we often see the parent driving their children’s ambitions instead of allowing the child’s own individuality and originality to shine through.

We often see children in Sri Lanka giving up their career dreams to pursue those of their parents. Children of parents who push too hard may initially try their best to conform to parental expectations. Eventually, however, many feel unaccepted for who they are, and tend to rebel or become anxious, unhappy and depressed. Nobody likes to let their child grow up without a life goal, but how can we as supportive parents ensure we support and don’t suffocate our children’s career plans?

Let’s start with these seven simple rules in career counselling for children:

  1. Understand your child’s personality, strengths and weaknesses. Psychometric –  profiling tests for children can be useful here.
  1. Encourage your child to discover his or her non-academic strengths by letting your child try out a range of activities and hobbies.
  1. Expose your child to the different types of jobs created in the outside world. Understand the world is changing: jobs which were in high demand years ago may have lost relevance.
  1. Advise your child to network with people from different vocations to find out the pros and cons of diverse career options. This firsthand information is valuable career counselling for children.
  1. Communicate freely with your child and discuss any concerns you may have about your child’s career choice.
  1. Allow your child the freedom to follow his or her career dream. Happiness counts over money and status in the end, and we all want our children to ultimately be happy with their choices.
  1. Support your child to his or her best at whatever vocation he or she chooses in the end.

School is not always a means to an end: while every child has to have a minimum level of schooling, academic routes aren’t always the best career path. Every individual has different strengths, and some children may excel in arts and theatre while others are destined for excellence in carpentry or mechanical engineering.

At the end what really matters is not what we do, but how well we do it, and how much our work benefits society in some positive way.


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