The strength of being interested

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Endorsed by Career Development Association of Australia

8 - 11 years
Mother and son

What did your child want to be when they were a toddler? A fairy? A superhero? They’ve probably started to develop more ‘realistic’ job aspirations since then, so it’s a good time to start conversations about interests, strengths, and the kinds of jobs they can lead to. These tips will show you how.

Keep it natural

‘Talking with your child about job aspirations’ sounds pretty serious! True, but the best way to do it is in everyday conversations – like when you’re driving home together, or doing the washing up. Sometimes you might make a single comment; other times, you’ll end up having a long chat. All these little conversations will help your child become aware of their interests and strengths, and connect them to potential jobs.

Start with your child

An easy starting point is to comment on an interest or strength that you’ve noticed in your child, and talk about jobs that use that interest or strength. Try to come up with less obvious jobs.

  • I’ve been thinking about how you love listening to music. Did you know there are jobs for people who love music, but don’t play? You could manage a band, or review concerts, or work in a recording studio.
  • You are so interested in sport, do you think you’d like to have a career in sport one day? You could turn pro, become a coach, go into sports medicine, or even design your own sportswear!

Draw on your history

Do any of your child’s interests or strengths recall your own childhood or career? Sharing jobs that you had (or considered) in the past is a great way to expand your child’s thinking about their own future.

  • When I was your age, I loved writing and science, just like you. I thought of working for a science magazine, but then I decided I wanted to do hands on work, so I became a pathologist.

Tap into role models

There are lots of people who can provide role models for your child – family, friends, coaches, people in the media, even characters in books, television and movies. If you notice someone with similar strengths or interests as your child, a simple comment can open your child to a world of new job possibilities:

  • David Attenborough knows almost as much about animals as you do! Maybe you should make nature documentaries one day.
  • Did you know that your uncle was really good at painting too? He went to art school first, and then he decided to become an interior decorator.

Get more data

People who see your child in other contexts may see strengths and interests that you don’t get to see. So when you’re chatting with your child’s soccer coach, or having a parent-teacher interview, ask what interests and strengths they’ve observed in your child.

Keep your child exploring

Your child’s interests and strengths will continue to develop if they have the opportunity, but they won’t be able to discover a passion for pharaohs if they never hear anything about ancient Egypt! So encourage them to keep exploring different subjects and activities – see the articles below for ideas.

More in this series
Father and son
8 - 11 years
Father and children
3 - 11 years
Father and son
3 - 11 years
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Last modified
19 April 2020