Kids Think About The Future More Than You Realise

We often see children, teenagers, and young adults as having it easy and in many ways they do.  Many of them go to school each day, do a handful of classes, have their lunch, hang out with their friends and go home.  We envy them in many ways because they have their whole life ahead of them, “How lucky are they to be able to do X, Y, Z…”  Whilst tutoring I have found many pupils are enjoying their current circumstances bar the bit of homework they have.  

Unfortunately, though many pupils when digging deeper are worrying about things and often it’s more than just what grades they will get.

Many Pupils Worry About Their Future After School More Than You Think

This was something until recently I didn’t think too much about when mentoring pupils outside of Maths.  I would often attempt to address their needs by attempting to help them overcome their current obstacles, whether it be social anxiety, depression, bullying, or whatever they needed; and whilst this improved their lives in some way I felt something was missing.

I then had a eureka moment, the sole reason for writing this article.  I forgot that like all of us, they are human and it’s not necessarily their immediate future or current circumstances that they are worrying about.  It’s well, life!  When they leave school they will have to start to become an adult, pay their bills, find a job, meet new people, start a career, travel, the list is endless.  Exciting, right?  Well for many no, it’s completely new and change can be terrifying, I remember it well.

The Boy Who Used To Think About The Future Far Too Much

When I was young I thought about my future an unhealthy amount.  

For a large part of my primary school life, I didn’t feel like I fitted in and struggled to make friends.  I spent a large amount of time on my own in the playground as I suffered from selective mutism and crippling shyness.  This meant I had far too much time to think and boy did I think!  I remember wandering around the painted rings on the playground floor wishing I could just be at home and how different I felt to all of the other kids.  I was 7 or 8 years old and I over-thought everything.  Sad, right?  

Well, it gets worse.  When I think back to that situation the thing that worried me more, was the fact that someday I would be an adult.  I had no choice but to grow up and be a fully-fledged adult.  I remember putting myself into ridiculous situations that no 8-year-old would be in, such as being a lawyer, doctor, game show host, a dentist, how could I ever do that?  I already realised at a very young age that school might well be out of the frying pan and into the fire, and I truly hated school so this was an incredibly scary prospect for someone so young.  How would I cope? I couldn’t even play properly with the other kids.

Older Pupils Are Even More Likely To Worry

As I got older I settled into school somewhat, got a friendship group and didn’t hate school quite so much.  I still suffered from anxiety due to school but being that bit more popular helped and at the time it was all I cared about like so many teenagers.  

I didn’t know what I wanted to do and at that time I didn’t care. I was a classic generalist.  I didn’t love any subject, however I knew I hated some subjects; I never could stand Woodwork or French so being a Bilingual Carpenter was out the window, but I still had no clue what I would do when I was older.  I knew one day that I would need to become an adult for want of a better word, but instead, I would enjoy going out with friends and being young, who cares about tomorrow?  The thoughts of going to college, university, and getting a job still filled me with dread, just I was content for once, so I would put it off for another day.  

This was a much healthier strategy than worrying myself sick, and many would argue it is all part of being young and living a carefree existence.  This lack of direction though I truly feel looking back caused many bad consequences in my 20s (Something I will write about in another article if I get the chance).  So enough about me, how can we start to improve this situation…

Can You or Your Kids Relate?

I wonder how many pupils now can relate to this situation and are perhaps about to do their GCSEs but care more about making friends in an attempt to avoid worrying about their future.

On the other hand, how many pupils are working incredibly hard on their GCSEs just hoping (somewhat correctly and incorrectly) it will give them an advantage in the great wide world?  Then leaving completely unprepared for what the real world has in store for them.

Is your child being homeschooled or being given an alternative form of education perhaps and you worry about how they will manage when they get older?  Once you are not there to support them how will they manage?  Are they growing into a healthy young adult or are they worrying about their future as much as I was?

So what would I tell myself and my parents looking back now at the situation? 

Well as you can imagine it’s not a one-size-fits-all subject, I realise and many pupils are managing conditions such as ASD and ADHD or struggling with mental health issues so this is just personal to me.  Let’s look at one way you could address this issue.

Try and Find A Passion

This I know is easier said than done.  What’s your passion?  The school system unfortunately tends to spread focus across multiple different talents and not allow you to stop studying certain areas until a minimum of 14 years old.  Hate Geography?  Well, you’re stuck an hour a week learning it.  Useless at football?  Well, you’re stuck doing PE twice a week.  It’s not the school’s fault, try educating roughly 10 million children at a time (that is how many children are currently in the UK school system).   It’s quite rightly not fit for each pupil as doing so would be impractical and immensely expensive.  

These hated lessons in my opinion are important to some degree though, as it’s important for a pupil’s personal development..  How often do you find yourself in a deathly boring meeting or managing your books, wishing you were somewhere else?  Sometimes we just have to show up.  Short periods of your work are always going to be tedious.  However, too many people go to work in jobs they hate and stare at the clock waiting for home-time.  It’s a grim reality that many adults face and something I truly don’t want for my child.  Therefore it’s so important they find a passion, but how?

You must get pupils to try new and different activities so they can start to enjoy learning again.  Get them to try everything you can get them to do, and find that holy grail area that your child is interested in. Jordan Peterson famously wrote the controversial statement in his book The 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote To Chaos, “It is far better to render Beings in your care competent than to protect them.”  Is he correct, I agree with him somewhat, even if I would have put it a bit more politely!  

We have a responsibility to our children to prepare them for the real world and I feel that by depending on the school system solely for your child’s education you’re not giving them the best opportunity for them to develop their confidence and competency going forward.  Helping to quell some of those unspoken anxieties and change their trajectory.

They Always Have a Secret Interest

“But they are not interested in anything!”  I hear you say.  They sit on their PlayStation as soon as they get home from school.  Good, buy them a course on Udemy on how to develop their own video games.  Nag them to do it at first then if they don’t get into it try them with something else, how to stream on Twitch, Game Theory, graphics, etc…

Sporty, get sign them up for a referees course, martial arts, after-school sports in general, whatever.  Encourage them in any way you can.  Get them to think about the sorts of roles they might want to do when they are older.

Spend all day watching TikTok or YouTube videos.  Great, buy them a Video Editing Course, get them to watch how to create a thumbnail video, and get them to understand how these platforms work, and how the algorithms work.  I have a friend whose sole job is to design thumbnails for YouTube videos.  He makes 5-10 times what I make!

Enjoy Art?  Learn about Digital Art and marketing, Udemy does some great courses.  Buy them a decent Graphics Tablet and set them up an Instagram account where they can show off their work (run by you of course).  Having a following in these sorts of endeavours is priceless for them going forward. 

Love Social Media, spending all day scrolling, learn about it.  Facebook Marketing, Pixels, Funnel Systems, Scams, how to get someone to buy your product.  The world is changing and these skills are priceless and sought after in the current world of work.

Socially anxious, learn life-changing social skills, from YouTube channels.  Charisma on Command is great as is the channel Improvement Pill.  Techniques such as the Delayed Smile, Hello Old Friend and how to listen effectively for many pupils, particularly those with ASD could have an incredible impact on their employability and confidence.  For me, those social situations within the world of work were what caused me the most anxiety and developing such skills at a younger age would have been a great piece of knowledge to have.

Give Them The Right Tools to Grow

This alone clearly will not remove all of your child’s anxieties but is a great step in the right direction.  In future, I will write more about other ideas to resolve these issues as clearly it’s a very complex one.  You also may ask do I do this with my daughter?  Well, she’s 9 at the moment but I hope in future I will.  Sometimes just getting her to do her homework can be a battle.  As she gets older I hope I will properly sit with her and talk about these issues.   Sometimes just sitting down with them and having a chat about what they want from life can go a huge way.  You may only get grunts out of them, but by doing this you’re doing your best as a parent so give yourself a high five.

As a parent, it is so hard to know how to reassure our children, develop their skills and not push them too far. I hope that by sharing some of my childhood experiences and my current knowledge now I am in my 40s, I might be able to support other pupils and parents who find themselves in a similar situation.  Never underestimate the power of encouraging them to learn valuable skills outside of school.  They may resist at first, but as they start to feel more at ease about their future and develop the priceless skill of how to become an independent learner, they will thank you…well maybe, kids will be kids after all!

Picture of James Ashton (Mathemy-Mindset)

James Ashton (Mathemy-Mindset)

The creator of Mathemy Mindset Tutoring Company. Specialising in Maths and English Tution with a focus on Mental Wealth and Pupils who struggle in mainstream schools. If you would like more help with Maths, Homeschooling, Mental Health and Self Improvement contact me on:

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