Do you ever ask your kids, ”What do you want to be when you grow up?". With their highly developed social consciences and savvy tech know-how, Gen Z and Gen Alpha kids will help make the world a better place. Here’s how you can support your kids at every stage and age to follow their dreams, whatever they may be, and guide them to an exciting future.

1. Talk to Your Kids About Their Goals

Setting goals is a valuable life skill. As adults, we know it helps hone vision, find motivation and learn discipline. For kids, it’s no different. “It can be really helpful for young people,” says Felicity Walter, co-founder of Yellow Arrow Leadership, an organisation that runs workshops for primary and secondary school students on leadership skills and mindset. “Once students have worked out their long-term goals, they can work backwards to break them down into smaller achievable steps.” Felicity suggests ‘blue-sky thinking’ exercises for teenagers, which is essentially brainstorming without any limits. “Ask questions like ‘what is your ideal outcome?’ and ‘what does it look like/sound like/feel like?’. It’s also helpful if they speak from the perspective of their future selves, e.g. ‘It’s 2025 and I have just been awarded my black belt in karate’.”

2. Set up a Vision Board

A vision board will help spark answers to,

“I love getting students to create a dream or vision board. It helps them visually see where they want to be and can help with setting goals,” says Hannah Jones, the director of Speech & Communication, a public speaking program for kids. Felicity agrees – “Gather a pile of magazines, put some calming music on, and ask students to cut out any images, words or phrases that resonate with them. Once they have a pile of clippings, they can arrange them on a board and place it somewhere where they will see it every day.” This could also be done digitally, by helping kids put together a Pinterest board of images that inspire them. Putting your goals down on paper can really help you manifest them.

What to Try

3. Encourage Extra-Curricular Activities

Extra-curricular activities can develop skills outside of the classroom.

Academic skills aren’t the be-all and end-all; there are plenty of ways for kids to foster life and career skills outside of the classroom. And, those who have well-rounded skills – from leadership and emotional intelligence to creativity and problem-solving power – will be well-equipped for the workplaces of the future. The goal, says Hannah, “is to teach our kids real-world skills that they will use during their time at school and beyond. Sports are great for team building, and there are so many opportunities within the arts, debating and speech. Skills in public speaking are game changing – the ability to communicate with confidence, charisma and compassion will set students up for future success, no matter what industry.”

4. Teach Them How to Manage a Budget

“Financial literacy is extremely important in our cashless world,” says Hannah. It can be a challenge to demonstrate cost, value and savings when transactions are digital and money isn’t tangible. A simple piggy bank might seem old-fashioned but, for younger kids, it can be very useful, encouraging kids to save up for things they want in a way they can see. Once they’re older, digital financial literacy becomes more important. Sign them up for a bank account and encourage them to save their pocket money or earnings for special purchases, or big-ticket items like a new device they’re dreaming of. “It’s really helpful for kids to learn about budgets, even at a young age,” says Felicity. “Scott Pape, the author of The Barefoot Investor, has some great suggestions for families.”

5. Fuel Their Passions

Fuel your kids’ passions to help them decide,

What gets your kids excited and engaged? Do they love making art or music, or daydream about starting their own podcast or YouTube channel? Whatever it is, Felicity suggests parents should take an active interest: “Ask them questions and learn from them. Provide opportunities for them to demonstrate and share their passions with others.” Help them research using books or documentaries about their area of interest, and read or watch them together. Sign them up for coding classes or photography lessons, programs that will help take their skills to the next level. And if they’ve got an idea for a small business, you can help kickstart that, too – work on a website together, design some T-shirts or create business cards and other stationery with logos via Officeworks’ Print & Copy Services.

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6. Stimulate Their Social Conscience

Help your kids consider how they can make a difference and impact the world in a positive way. One way to do this, says Hannah, is to take their ideas seriously but also challenge them where possible: “Ask open-ended questions to drive thought and discussion. Things like ‘How can we make our community stronger?’. Get them thinking and talking about the big issues – encourage them to read newspaper articles and watch TV news programs and documentaries.

7. Boost Their Digital Literacy Skills

Digital literacy skills will be essential for the jobs of the future.

No matter what path our tweens and teens take in life, the digital world is guaranteed to play a huge part. It’s essential that they know how to navigate it safely online, while also using every tool the online world has to offer.

“Communication skills, both in person and online, are important,” says Hannah. The main objective, she says, is to ensure kids know “how to communicate with kindness no matter the platform”. Talk to your kids about social media and the internet and take an interest in what platforms they’re using. Help guide their experience with a few rules, like not sharing personal details online and only “friending” people they know in real life.

The internet can also be an exciting tool for research and connection around your child’s areas of interest. Search Facebook for like-minded groups to join (e.g. chess lovers or budding film-makers) and YouTube is full of free content – learn how to cook paella or draw in Japanese manga-style. For more specialised or in-depth tutorials seek out online classes via sites like MasterClass or investigate ClassBento or Work-Shop for in-person sessions.

8. Foster a Growth Mindset

Positivity is wonderful, but there’s also value in preparing kids for setbacks, helping them recognise that making mistakes is okay and inevitable. “I believe the most important way to help set young people up for success is to help them develop a growth mindset. That means they will translate challenges into lessons and not give up when things get tough,” Felicity says. “[One of the ways] we can foster a growth mindset is by praising effort instead of perfection, and helping students to reframe their language to be open and positive. So ‘I can’t do that’ becomes ‘I’m going to learn how to do that’.” Try sharing your own mistakes with your kids, or find real-world examples where successful entrepreneurs and public figures have faced challenges as they worked towards where they are today.

Small Business Ideas for Students

If your teen or tween wants to get career-ready, here are a few at-home business ideas to get them started:

  • Pet Sitting & Dog Walking: Animal lovers take note – you can actually get paid to cuddle kittens and play with puppies! Talk about a dream job.
  • Car Washing: With a sponge, a bucket and a hose they’re ready to start a small business.
  • Lawn Care & Gardening: Got a green thumb? Elderly neighbours and time-poor friends and family might appreciate some help with mowing the lawn and pruning the hedges.
  • Babysitting: It’s a classic first job for a good reason – parents of little ones always need a helping hand.
  • Start an Etsy Shop: Do they knit, sew, make candles or jewellery? Time to turn that creative hobby into a side hustle.
  • Sell Vintage/Preloved Clothes: Here’s a business idea for fashion lovers – hunt down quality threads at op shops and re-sell them on eBay and Depop.
  • Tutoring: Take a study break… and help younger kids with their reading and maths homework.