Burnout in Kids? Here’s How You Can help Them Make Right Choices 

How do you help your children navigate their career choices and prevent burnout? 

4 min read
Burnout in Kids? Here’s How You Can help Them Make Right Choices 

Move over parental expectations, kids today have a mind of their own and are remarkably sorted.

Once upon a time at their young child’s mention of a career choice, our earlier laid-back generation would smile knowingly, nod and wait for the sun to rise the next morning on a new career choice. Not today’s parents who recognize exactly what their child is up against. The present world is a competitive cauldron, and as parents they will do whatever it takes to ensure their child gets a head start and assure them ultimate career success.


Why Children Need to Make Career Choices?

In his book, Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children from the Culture of Hyper-Parenting, author Carl Honore acknowledges the need for children to be left alone and given room to be themselves. Among many other things mentioned, he urges parents to allow children to spend time outdoors, to have aspirations, and writes, “Children need space to take risk and make mistakes.” Shweta Sharan, previously a counsellor at ‘I Love Mondays,' which counsels children on careers, now works independently with schools, students and parents in Bangalore, observed during her career counselling sessions that children are eager to explore different options, while parents prefer them to be sorted with a long-term plan in place.

“It is important to have long-term goals but not set in stone and a child should be given the freedom to discover his/her interests along the way.”
Shweta Sharan, Counselor

Understanding Your Child’s Career Choice

Knowing  the  reason  for  your  child’s  career  choice  is  a  good  way  to  understand  if  your  child  is serious  or  their  choice  will  change  with  the  direction  of  the  wind. Choices  inspired  by  a  recent  trend,  because  peers  are  taking  it  up  or  because  it  seems  like  an  easy  route  to  big  bucks  and  fame  is  surely  not  based  on  firm  reasoning.   But  a  choice  made  on  what  the  child  enjoys,  sometimes  a  choice  to  follow  in  their  parent’s  footsteps  owing  to  inherent  talent  or  because  the  child   is  aware  what  the  job  entails,  might  seem  more  reasonable.

While  parent’s  support  is  indispensable  at  every  level, Chandrika  R. Krishnan,  a  certified  counsellor  and educator  for  over  two  decades  believes  it’s  also  important  to  lay  bare  the  facts  of  life  before  them,  and  says,  ‘Let  children  know  that  responsibility  and  rights  go  hand  in  hand.  Once  they  take  responsibility  to  do  well  in  that  chosen  field  it  is  their  responsibility.’
To  this,  Sharan  adds,  “A parent should encourage a child's desire for a career choice but should also exercise pragmatism about the path ahead.”

These  counsellors  recommend  parents  take  the  following  approach  while  attempting  to  make  sense  of  their  child’s  career  choice:

  1. Provide  unconditional  support,  irrespective  of  career  choice.
  2. Apprenticeships and internships are good ways to gauge  a child’s  interest  and  dedication  towards  their  career  choice.
  3. Be  realistic  and  explain  the  pros  and  cons  of  their  career  choice.
  4. Without  being  discouraging,  inform  children about  the  hard  work  the  particular  career  entails.

How to Motivate and Not Overwhelm Your Child?

It’s imperative parents stay calm, supportive and ensure children a study friendly atmosphere at home.
It’s imperative parents stay calm, supportive and ensure children a study friendly atmosphere at home.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

How  to  motivate  your  child,  and  what  constitutes  pressure  that  will  overwhelm  them  and  result  in  burnout – is  a  tricky  equation  parents  need  to  crack. “I  believe  in  the  adage  that  there  is  no  gain  without a  modicum  of  pain.  I  also  feel  that  children  should  be  made  to  understand  that  they  need  to  work  to  the  best  of their own  ability  and  potential.  Many  children  perform  far  lesser  than  they  are capable  of  performing  be  it  in  sports  or  academics,  which  is  a  shame  considering  that  it  is  a wasted  resource  or  talent,’  says  Krishnan.

Foreseeing  a  change  in our current  attitude towards career and work,  Sharan  says  that  the  ‘Future  of  Work’  will  be  all  about  cross-disciplinary  skills  and  innovations.  She  urges  parents  to  let  children  explore  variety  of  interests but  cautions  against  viewing  every  interest  as  a  possible  career  choice.  “A  child  who  loves  photography  or  food  need  not  become  a  photographer  or  a  chef.  Let
children  explore  interests  and  hobbies  for  their  own  sake,  for  skills  and  passions  and  build  relationships  and  be  part  of  communities,”  says  Sharan.

Prevent Burnout in Children

A  child’s  schedule  is  packed  with  activities  be  it  hobbies  or  extra-curriculars  meant  to  hone  their  abilities.  Apart  from  parental  and  peer  pressure, today’s  children  are  also  straddled  with  their  own  need  to  surpass  others.  This  can  overwhelm  them  and  lead  to  burnout  in  children.
Krishnan  recommends  these  five  measures  to  prevent  burnout  and  help  children  stay  active  and  healthy.

  1. A  fun  activity  or  an  outing  to  break  the  monotony.
  2. Family  time  together  like  the  daily  family  dinner,  a  TV  programme  watched  together  sans  volume  blaring,  or  a  movie  once  a  week  works  well  for  downtime.
  3. A  rejuvenating  walk  or  run  around  the  park  or  to  the  beach.
  4. Enjoy thirty  minutes  to  an  hour  of  exercise  or  play  any  sport  without  being  competitive.
  5. The  occasional family  function  shouldn’t  be  skipped and  parents  should  encourage  children  to  socialize.

(Lesley D Biswas is a freelance writer who writes articles on parenting, environment, travel and women, besides fiction.)

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