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Chevonne Boyd

It’s natural for parents to want to help their kids succeed in the world of work. How can you do that without hovering?

The experts have some tips:

Build follow-through
Sometimes, it seems easier to do chores yourself rather than listen to your kids’ complaints about them. But making kids do chores is a crucial step in their development. “Something as simple as taking out the trash every day builds discipline,” says Chevonne Boyd, public relations coordinator at JDG. “Putting a trash bag back in the bin builds follow-through. Help your kids understand: this is a chore, but you’re learning attention to detail and how to follow instructions. Those are all skills that can be transferred to the workplace.”

Teach your child to value every job
Every work experience is important, even if it isn’t the career your child will eventually pursue. “I started out pushing shopping carts when I was 14,” Taylor says. “If you start out in retail or fast food, you’re still learning customer service and other soft skills that will help you in your career.” If you send that message to your child, it’s much more likely that they’ll take that first retail job seriously and benefit from it.

Keep an open mind and support your child’s interests
“If your child is interested in an apprenticeship rather than college, be supportive of that,” Christiansen advises. “Don’t put down whatever career your child has selected because you have a negative connotation with it.” Your child may only do the job for two years or five years, or it may turn into their dream career. The important thing is not to dismiss your child’s choice from the outset. “Not everyone has to have a college degree to be a successful person in our society,” Christiansen says.

Set a positive example to follow
One of the most helpful things you can do for your children is model professional responsibility. Make sure your child sees you head to work on time, and dressed for the job. “If you’re a hard-working parent, then chances are you’ll have a hard-working child,” Christiansen says.

Answer questions, but don’t do the work for your child
“You can lead your child to water, but they have to drink for themselves,” Boyd says. “Help them understand what a resume looks like, but don’t write it for them.” Similarly, if your child needs to draft an email to a prospective employer, or fill out an application, make sure they try it without your help first. “It’s something that builds confidence,” Taylor says.

Explain the limits of your involvement
As parents, we don’t want our children to fail or be disappointed. But, at the same time, we want them to be successful adults, especially in the workplace. This can be a tricky balance to strike, but it helps to talk to your children about it, says Taylor. “If you’ve decided not to be hands-on with something, explain why. Explain that the end goal is for them to be successful on their own, even if they sometimes fail along the way.”

Make exploration feel safe
Choosing a career is, to some extent, trial and error. So when your child lands on something that isn’t the right fit, let them know that it’s normal. “Not everybody finds their career on the first try,” Christiansen says. “Be gracious and let your child know that if they don’t succeed at it right away, that’s okay — they’re still earning! Everybody gets to where they need to be on their own time.”

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