Vocational guidance: how parents can help their teens

Barely the first term of the year started, it is already time for high school students to tackle their professional project. As of January 18, hundreds of thousands of future graduates will have to share their their wishes on Parcoursup, the platform – with countless flaws denounced – for admission to higher education.

This pivotal moment worries many parents, eager for the success of their children. Especially since this choice of future sometimes having a cost for the household calls for a carefully considered decision.

Accompanying your child as well as possible in his plans for the future is therefore a real challenge. It is an important moment in the life of a teenager, full of dreams and projections. The first thing to do to best guide your child in his choice of orientation is to observe him and listen to his desires.

And not just during high school. Some aspirations actually appear very early and, even if they are not formulated concretely, they offer clues to support or dissuade future decisions. An appetite for creativity? A good thing before embarking on an artistic career. A gift for DIY? Why not try crafts? Throughout his development, the child goes through different phases and passions.

Advise rather than impose

Witnessing this development is an invaluable source of information to best advise your child on his professional future.

“Advise” is moreover the key word of the approach, rather than “impose”. “Sometimes adolescents do not know at all what interests them in terms of orientation, the parents then make proposals while remaining relatively respectful, explains the psychologist Leïla Desseaux, but sometimes, some parents insist heavily on certain sectors, very often scientific. If the child likes it, why not, but if, on the contrary, he does not want to embark on this path and he does not have the place to express it in his family, this generates a lot of frustration. »

At the origin of this split, we often find patterns of adults who have not had the chance to access the studies they would have dreamed of doing. This sense of social injustice sometimes leads them to push their children down unchosen paths. It is important to be aware of this in order to establish a dialogue so as not to make the children carry the weight of their own frustrations. It is a question of taking a step back in order to advise as best as possible.

Many tools and events exist

Far from the clichés of careers ensuring economic tranquility and recognition such as medicine or law, new professions are emerging. The rise of artificial intelligence and robotics will require a great deal of know-how and advanced specializations.

It is therefore important to find out and talk about it with your child, especially if he is unable to formulate his wishes. Many tools and events exist, such as the traditional student fairs, information and orientation centers or specialized websites such as that of Onisep (the National Office for Information on Education and Professions ) or the CIDJ (the Youth Information and Documentation Centre). It is also an opportunity to discuss with professionals to support future projects and ensure that the final choice of the child is the one that best suits him.

“It is important that the young person is confronted with reality”

3 questions to Catherine Boiton, school guidance consultant and professional coach

When can you start talking about career guidance with your children?

There are two moments. If the children are not very academic or they need a project to motivate themselves, and we must therefore choose an orientation from college, it is good to consult from the third in order to choose a baccalaureate which corresponds to them. I see young people who go to a professional baccalaureate by default, without knowing what they want to do. For those who choose general courses, it is preferable to look into orientation in second, especially with the new baccalaureate where they will have to choose their specialties. In the last quarter of the first year, you have to embark on a professional project with a view to registering on Parcoursup the following year. This involves knowing who you are, what you want to do, things you can discover through explorations, business surveys, in addition to traditional support and orientation assessments.

What are the tools that can help in the choice?

In addition to Internet platforms, which sometimes lack a bit of material, I recommend meetings with professionals. When it is chosen by the student, the ninth-grade internship makes it possible to confirm or not his choice. Many young people and parents do not know that they can do several internships during their schooling. The establishment has a duty to give them agreements, if they ask for them. At their own level, parents must accompany them on this path. There is also a free site, jobirl.com, which connects young people aged 14 to 25 with professionals to discuss their profession. There are internship offers, it’s practical when you don’t have contacts in a branch.

What is the role of parents in supporting the child?

Above all, they have a role of support and openness. If we take the example of business surveys, they can activate their networks or help their child meet someone who can help them. There is also the fact of not having any a priori on such and such a profession and of favoring an approach of understanding: “Why does this profession appeal to him? Afterwards, the child can also make mistakes, but it is important that he himself is confronted with reality. There are many bridges between professions, provided they are more or less in the same branch. Even if the young person starts studying and does not like it after one or two years, there is often the possibility of bouncing back.

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Vocational guidance: how parents can help their teens

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