I have been noticing so much pressure put on 15- and 16-year-olds to know what they want to do in the future. If the expectation is not from the parents then it comes from the neighbours or their friends or extended family. But the pressure of having clarity in their career and further education starts about now.
I know people who had it figured out, got the qualification and abandoned it — they just realised it wasn’t for them. These are adults who, like me, switched professions in their 20s and 30s.
There is no harm in asking your child what he wants to do as long as there is not a ticking clock and count down calendar put in front of him. Don’t forget — teenagers are NOT adults. Most of them are clueless and rightly so. There are still in the stage of developing their brains, making stronger connections so that their impulsive side gets more connected to their logical brain — the very reason why teenagers are more impulsive. Their neural networks are only just about getting developed and will continue to do so till their mid-twenties.
Yes I agree, they pretend to behave as an adult and want adult privileges but at 15-16 they are far from being a complete teen let alone an adult.
But the pressure does not usually originate from the teenagers. It’s more the peer pressure that parents suffer. It’s the parents who are constantly looking figuring out which summer school to send their child to or who the best college counsellor is so that their child — yes, child — gets accepted to the best universities or colleges when they come of age.
As a youth and family coach I’ve worked with teenagers who have spent their first year in college and realised how both their career choice and the college have been a big mistake. Parents always have the best intentions for their child, but in the pursuit of acquiring the right course or perfect college sometimes the pressure can cloud their decisions, making it all a wasteful exercise.
At the same time I also work with kids whose parents realise how important it is to build in them resilience skills to face life’s challenges, helping them to understand that making the wrong choices is not the end of the world, developing social and team skills and teaching them to manage expectations of themselves and their abilities. This will equip the child with requisite life skills that are needed by him or her to gain the right answers.
Being a high achiever in school and college does not automatically make them a star; there are many contenders for the trophy there. Parents when you help your child develop the right skills to face life’s challenges, tell them their right choices will lead to success but wrong choices are not a loss, they just mean a learning phase in their quest for success.