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Careers and tweens

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Tweens and careers: is it too early to find out?

You remember being a kid and having relatives ask you what you want to be when you grow up. Most kids will either keep silent or say the first thing that comes into their minds. Do we put too much pressure on preteens to decide their life’s work? That is often the case. On the other hand, knowing what you want early on can help a child focus on their future.

In one of his commentaries, Be What You Want to Be, Michael Josephson of Los Angeles explaines how we may start out on one path, and because of circumstances, we find ourselves pursuing something else entirely. (www.michaeljosephson.com). Also, Josephson says that tween’s and teen’s moods are unpredictable…”no matter how intensely they feel about something today, they may feel very differently tomorrow.”

In an article by Eve Tahmincloglu (www.nbcnews.com), says students feel pressure in junior high to choose a direction. Some parents turn to a career-counseling firm such as CareerVision. While some say this is too much pressure, others say they are ensuring their child’s future. Sean Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, says kids 13 to 18 will often listen to a counselor rather than their parents. Peg Hendershot, directorof Career Vision, says the can start understanding how education prepares them for success.

Aaron Cooper, clinical psychologist at Northwestern University Family Institute, feels “If this is done before college, it forces kids to narrow their focus of possibilities a little early in the game. What’s wrong with going to college and exploring everything that comes across your desk without having some tunnel vision imposed on you?” He calls this hyper-focus. Of course, there are always those who find their passion early on, but that is not the majority.

Caroll Christen, co-author of What Color Is Your Parachute?, says the testing is only part of the picture, and that can be done online inexpensively. Then kids and parents need to face what professions are economically feasible. Once they know what they are interested in, they should find people in that world and interview them.

Whether to explore careers early or later is ultimately up to the parents and contingent upon the personality of the child. Some kids can withstand pressure, and others need the freedom to take their time. Take your cues from your tween, but remember that they change their minds as unpredictably as the weather.

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