700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Talking to Your Kids About Their Future: Questions to Get You Started

Sep 03, 2019
Little girl with her eyes closed

You may remember your parents telling you to figure out what you want to do with your life. You may also remember thinking “I’ll be a kid forever, I’ll figure it out.” Well time flies, and you might find yourself ready to have these same conversations with your child. So how do you encourage them to think about their plans for the future?

First, be open. Listen to their plans and what interests them. As you learn more about what’s important to them, think about ways they can take on responsibility in similar areas. For example, if they want to go into construction, help them study for their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) once they are old enough or encourage them to get a summer job with a local builder or at a hardware store. If they show interest in becoming a doctor, give them books related to anatomy or encourage them to volunteer at a hospital.

Second, make sure your child understands dedication and the small steps it takes to achieve dreams. Children learn by watching. Share a personal story of how you accomplished a goal and if it’s something they watched you accomplish, even better. Maybe they didn’t realize the goal you were working toward and the steps you took to achieve it. Or remind them of a time when they worked really hard at something and it paid off.

Help your kids understand that there are parts of life that aren’t always enjoyable. Maybe there is one thing you really don’t like about your job, but you can share five positive things about it that outweigh the one negative. Help your child identify one negative about something they love to do, then explain how without that challenge, they couldn’t get better or accomplish their goal.

Third, just as important as what they want to be is who they want to be, so don’t forget to ask about that too. Below are questions to help you get the conversation started.

  • What’s something you know you’re not interested in and why?
  • Who is someone you look up to and why? What characteristics does the person have that you already have and what is a characteristic they have you need to build?
  • What worries you about your future?
  • How can I help you achieve your goals?

It’s important that these conversations not just happen once. Keep an open dialogue with your child to further the discussion, which allows them to ask questions and seek advice as they get older.

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Featured Expert

Sarah Scott
Behavioral Health

Sarah Scott is a Clinical Lead Supervisor for the Behavioral Health School Based team. She graduated with her Master’s degree in Clinical Counseling 10 years ago and has been working with children and families since. She has a passion to help people grow and also enjoys volunteering in the community.

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.