We all know the feeling. A lovely child turns into a teenager who wants to buy the slutty patent shocking pink leather stilettos or the sleazy black nylon hoody. Should the parent swallow their own opinions, go ahead and buy it to keep the peace or voice an opposing view and refuse?
These discussions mark the beginning of a journey of teenage decisions which lead to the important choices of which school, college or university. And the pattern begins here.

Of course, any self-respecting teenager will try to shut a parent down if he or she feels opposed– especially publicly. But empowering a teen to make good choices is tough.

Research shows that keeping the conversation open is the way to go. Listen to the choices, admire bravery, confidence and individuality, then put forward some of parental ideas. They might not like these thoughts, but one step has been accomplished – the teenager has listened. If the listening becomes a habit, when it comes to making the really important decisions like choosing a school or a university, then talking together becomes easy.

Colleges, schools and unis need to send out brochures and information

Brochures stay lying around the kitchen table. Parents can be sure that at some point the teenager will pick them up and flick through them. It’s a good way to plant some early thoughts. If the child is resistant, then be aware – they might not be ready yet, but when the moment comes, parent and teen will be open to ideas.

Look at things together

It’s a good idea for parents and teens to get into the habit of sharing news and views together. Encourage parents to take an interest in what teenagers are reading, watching, listening to and seeing. If your child starts to withdraw from talking to a parent about the everyday stuff, how can. Parent and child discuss the important topics?

Here are some useful tips about how parents can stay connected with a teenage child

• Stop everything and focus on the moment
• Look at the child while they’re talking
• Show interest. Encourage the child to expand on each thought
• Listen without judging or correcting
• Just be there

Then when the big moment comes to choose which college or uni, the parent is used to discussing ideas, listening and respecting each other.

Start by asking what job the teen would like to do in the future?

Find out what the teen sees as the next step to achieving a goal? For example, if a child wants to be an astronaut, chances are they’ll need to be hot at science. If they want to be a TV presenter, then English and media studies might be a good combination etc.

Ask a teenager to consider what qualifications might help them achieve the job of their dreams? Or maybe they need to qualify for an apprenticeship? Does taking a gap year appeal?

Do they just want money? Is there a vocation? Absolutely no idea?

Our advice to is to get the ball rolling. Don’t give a right or wrong answer. Start to discuss some of these big questions early, so when the time comes, they’ve thought about it a bit. Put some options in front of them.

That’s the thing. Keep it a choice

Keep the ideas open. Don’t say no – just listen, instead of ‘No but’ say ‘Yes and…‘ then put another idea forward. If a teenager has had careers advice at school, show interest, but don’t push for decisions, just listen and ask to see the literature.
That’s the best way to help, be there f and help point the child towards the right choices for the future.

Universities, schools and colleges can help

Get the ball rolling with lively, informative brochures and mailings with information that will appeal to both parent and child. These items in print will be passed around between the generations and provide a talking point for months to come.

want help with brochures and mailings? Talk to us – we make it easy