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What's your child's aptitude?

Dr Nirmala Rao, Malini Shah | June 20, 2005

D he greatest challenge that parents face is to guide or prepare their children for a successful career.

Many parents today want to gauge their children's aptitude. This seems a very encouraging trend, until you realise that the child they are talking about is merely in Class V or Class VI!

This indicates their anxiety. It also means that more and more parents are becoming aware that each child is different and has different abilities. It is not possible to decide what field s/he needs to specialise in without knowing what these abilities are.

The right time to have your child's aptitude tested: after Class X and Class XII.

Your child's aptitude is just developing upto Class X, and you may not get an accurate profile in Class VII and Class XI.

Second, personality interest assessments for graduates give an idea about the career and post graduate options.

Academic success: how indicative is it?

Gone are the days when the vocational choice was simple: the 'bright' children chose to pursue Science in Class XI, and then Medicine or Engineering.

Commerce was meant for those who were good in Mathematics, but not scientifically oriented, and Arts was for the 'duffers'.

It has taken a long time for this notion to change and for parents and students to realise the following:

i. Academic success is not the only measure of intelligence

Your ability to cope with frustration, disappointments and failure, emotional intelligence, social skills, team spirit and multi-skill abilities are measures of success.

If you can deal with your emotions and channelise them constructively, that helps, too.

ii. Academic achievement is not necessarily indicative of success in the professional world

There are countless examples where academically backward children have done very well in their profession.

Examples: Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, who did badly at school.

Also, some academically brilliant children have failed to face the demands of the world of work.

Recently, a girl was forced by her parents to take up BDS.

After three years, she changed her mind, got an Arts degree and then proceeded to do Journalism. She is doing very well today.

iii. Academic success is not the only factor to predict a person's growth

Individual liking or preference is important. It is a universal truth that when we like something, we are most motivated towards it.

This leads one to ask, "So what makes a person successful? Is it intelligence, is it aptitude or is it simply hard work?"

The answer: there's no magic formula. It is a combination of various factors.

To understand these, it is important to understand the terms which we use so loosely.

Why vocational guidance is essential

Here are a few cases where a limited perspective has resulted in disappointment.

i. Parental expectation

An engineering student came to us for counselling all through her engineering course. 

She had wanted to do medicine, but when her father expressed his desire for her to take up engineering, she faltered.

Distressed at the thought of disappointing him and at the thought of taking a wrong decision, she opted for engineering. She did complete it, but with a lot of resentment and consequent anxiety.

ii. Lack of exposure

A boy took up medicine because his parents were doctors, but halfway through his course work, he realised it was a wrong decision.

iii. Emulating others

'Everybody is doing MBA'. It is the 'in thing'; this led someone to take up business management.

Unfortunately, he could not complete it because his aptitude just did not match management.

In sum, a person's success in a field depends on the choice s/he is best suited for.

Vocational Guidance helps identify the talents of your child, likes, inherent potential and giving a direction to their dreams in a realistic way, so that s/he can choose the profession s/he is best suited for.

Do you have a question for Dr Nirmala Rao? Write to Get Ahead!


Dr Nirmala S Rao has been a practising psychiatrist for 18 years and manages her clinic, Aavishkar, along with a team of counsellors and psychotherapists, in Mumbai. Aavishkar conducts programmes on vocational guidance and self-development for children.

Malini Shah is a youth counsellor and conducts aptitude tests for students regularly.

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Read what others have to say:

Number of User Comments: 7

Sub: Aptitude Test for children

Parentrs usually mix up career guidance for aptitudre test. Article is interesting but too brief, wish Ms. Rao could communicate in some more detail. It ...

Posted by T R Anand Rao

Sub: Child's aptitude

Dear Sir, I wolud appreciate if Dr. Nirmala Rao advises about the best way to educate our children from ill effects of Television Channels, which ...

Posted by pavan

Sub: What's your child's aptitude?

I am having a 8 month old babby. I became very much interested by the topic to know about my daughter. But the first topic ...

Posted by Usha

Sub: reaction on the article

The article is quite nice and it is the need of the hour that parents should not impose their will on their children which lead ...

Posted by Samuel Mokale

Sub: child's aptitude

It bit let to published. It could have been published befor HSC result. Parents are more confused, and worst thing is that they confust more ...

Posted by James M Rumao


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