Knowing one's self well is important for satisfaction and success in life. Helping your children understand and reflect on their unique, personal characteristics allows them to answer the first question in their career plan - Who am I?

Interests, values, skills, personality type, and career beliefs are the personal characteristics most frequently discussed by career professionals.

These personal characteristics are often measured by using formal career assessment inventories. Your child might use one of these instruments as early as middle school. Formal instruments are very specific in what they can tell you and your child. If a formal instrument is used, make sure you understand what its purpose is and what the results mean. Formal instruments NEVER tell your child what he or she should be!

These and other facets of self-understanding can be also gleaned through everyday experiences. Children actively display their talents, strengths, and passions in play, in social interactions, and in school. They demonstrate how confident they are in various situations - how much they believe in themselves and their capabilities. They indicate if they feel that they can control their present and their future.

Be aware of these characteristics and talk about them with your child at the earliest age. Ask the right questions - not what do you want to be when you grow up, but...

Helping your children learn more about themselves is a part of your everyday interaction.