When your child is in pain, you feel it. Watching from the sidelines as your child is struggling with their career can be frustrating. On top of that, it can be painful to watch your child wrestle with self-confidence or self-imposed pressure. You already know that parenting is a balancing act. Providing support while encouraging independence is always tricky. But what is the right amount of support when your child is struggling in this area?

Validate Without Focusing on Your Child’s Emotions
It can be hard to know where to draw the line between offering positive encouragement and setting realistic expectations. If you get swallowed up by negative feelings, you are allowing blame on external factors like the “incompetent college guidance counselor”, “unfair interviewer” or the “terrible job market”. This only feeds negative energy and limits moving forward. Your child will gain more when you encourage them to build their own accountability.

Create and Maintain Boundaries
Empathizing with your child helps you understand the situation from their vantage point. It is important to not get swallowed up in their emotions, however, and find ways to maintain your objectivity. They are looking to you to be strong anchor. Try to not let their emotions activate your own.

Process Your Emotions Without Judgment
It might be hard not to be envious of a neighbor whose daughter is climbing up the career ladder and just bought her first house while your child is living at home with a minimum wage part time job. You are human and will have thoughts and emotions of your own. First, find support for yourself, whether a friend, family member or professional with whom you can share your thoughts. Make sure you are maintaining your health and wellbeing. Lastly, ask yourself why your child’s actions are stirring up emotions in you to see if you can reframe the situation.

Offer Support
While there is no magic formula, you can support your child in a variety of ways by picking up on their cues. Forcing a conversation when they are not in the mood to talk will not be productive. However, as a parent, chances are you are resourceful. If your child can’t seem to figure out what direction they want to pursue, offer them to take an abilities assessment or see if your professional contacts would be willing to engage in an informational interview with your child

If your child is receptive to your ideas, help them devise systems that work for them. For example, if your child is a linear thinker, perhaps offering assistance in creating an excel spreadsheet to track her contacts or job opportunities would benefit. Or help your child set one goal a day if they are motivated by progress. If you notice that your conversations with your child have plateaued, it might be time to reach out to a third party for support such as a career coach who can offer objective expertise. Together, you and your child can explore options to decide which makes the most sense to pursue.

There are 5 key skills I work on with clients in leadership development. Although they are straightforward concepts, it takes a lot of practice to make these skills natural.

Ask For Help
You often offer help to others but may rarely will ask for it. You are probably worked that it makes you look weak or too vulnerable. You may even have the belief that you are put here to help others, but no one can really help you. You are too self-sufficient.

Actually, the opposite is true. Asking for help shows strength, confidence and courage. When you reach out to others, you express a willingness to learn and create an opportunity to develop another by letting him/her do something for you and attempt to problem solve with you.

Helping others is something I hope you continue to do, but great leaders seek opportunities to develop others, and one way to do that is to let others help and advise you in the process. When you shine the light of recognition on someone else, it does not dim your light.

Ask Questions
Somewhere along your career journey, you became convinced that you are supposed to know everything and work hard to be the smartest person in the room. You think this will make you look strong. Or, perhaps you are convinced that you will look stupid because it will confirm that you don’t know something.

Unfortunately, this type of thinking will let opportunities pass you by.

By not asking questions and getting the needed guidance and advice from others, you isolate yourself from the team and limit opportunities to network and build professional bonds. When you ask questions, you invite others in and send the message that you value what they think and show that their contributions are important. As a result, you will usually get much more meaningful feedback and respect along the way.

Speak Up
Are you convinced no one really wants to hear what you have to say? Or you fear that you don’t have anything of value to add?

Unfortunately, the more often you remain silent and don’t contribute to the conversation, the more people will come to believe that you don’t add any value or don’t want to add any. Or worse, they come to believe that you are not interested to engage on the issue at all. This makes you come off as distant, uninterested and not a team player. People begin to overlook you more and more for career opportunities or project work.

By speaking up and providing your thoughts, suggestions and recommendations, you show you are engaged in the process and provides valuable insight to your thought process.

Learn How to Deal with Conflict
You may be convinced that your needs should be the ones that take a back seat to others and overly accommodate the needs of others to avoid conflict. When you choose avoidance or accommodating too often, you cause others to take less and less interest in meeting your needs. By always placing so little value on your own needs, you teach everyone else to do the same, and those around you respect you less and less.
Luckily, there are five different conflict styles (collaborating, compromising, competing, accommodating, and avoiding) and each style is suitable for application during different circumstances. Learning each one and appropriate application will give you the needed tools to move projects ahead and work with people in a more constructive way.

Take a Risk
Change can be scary. Change generally means that you will have to learn new and different methods, approaches, processes and behaviors. After you master something, you are not as flexible to change because secretly you are not so confident that you can master the “new” something. This line of thinking robs you of the confidence to adjust or learn what you need to be successful.

When you fear failure so much, it causes you to resist change and appear inflexible. Instead of asking yourself, “What if I can’t do it? What if I fail?”, ask yourself, “What can be gained if I do this? What if this was a success?”

Take time to focus on each skill and build on them. As these skills become stronger, your colleagues and supervisors will start noticing and you will start being considered for special projects, career opportunities and even promotions.