The end of Year 12 exams marks a vital moment for teenagers as they transition into adulthood. Their emotions are everywhere as they feel relief, joy and anxiety as teenagers as look ahead to starting a life outside of high school.
Guess what, this feeling is normal. As parents, you need to help navigate and handle the post-exam feelings by letting them realise and act like an adult but also keeping them focused on making important decisions that will shape their future.
You have to understand this emotional rollercoaster starts as this is the one thing that was constant and now it’s suddenly over, but the decisions in the next months need to be made and conquered by them. This is the time for your child to gain confidence and learn the vital steps to resilience.
Here are some strategies that you can do to help get them through these first few months of change:
Embrace and nurture time with friends
The best thing you can do for them is let them be around their friends who are also feeling the same. Some might be excited about going to university, others not; but being around friends helps them know that the feelings and emotions are not uncommon. It also helps with the being rewarded for their hard work, let them go to the beach or the shops on their own – show them that their independence has started now that they have left school and adulthood is something to look forward to.
Please remember that setting some rules is ok, I wouldn’t let them go away for a week and not tell you. Tell them ‘take the car, be back before tonight’. You still want to ensure they listen and be safe.
Keep communication open
You know your child better than anyone so you’ll understand how they are feeling. If they’re nervous, that’s absolutely normal and the important thing is to maintain open lines of communication. Talk to them about how they’re feeling and listen – reassure them that they’ve done all they can and the future is still bright.
Listen and empathise about the results
Results day will be ‘make or break’ for all teenagers. Although, 45% of students surveyed at the University of Sydney said that they didn’t get the results that they wanted university submissions, let them know that there is a solution no matter what it is.
If your child gets a poor result, there are three things to keep in mind.
- Their reaction is likely going to be different to yours and that’s okay. Instead, it’s really important to let them feel what they’re feeling and understand that it is a normal process of life.
- Don’t be proactive in the first 72 hours, but rather just listen and empathise. I know as a parent you want to find a solution in the first moment of hearing they haven’t achieved what they wanted, but at this moment, they need to feel these feelings. What you can do over the next 72 hours, is listen to what they are saying, hear prompts of what they are looking for and guide them into it when they are ready. The hardest thing to do as a parent is to sit back and listen only; not say opinions. This is not only a test for them but a test for you.
- After you’ve allowed them this time to process their results and listened to them, you can start adding your view and solutions. Talk to them about what they’re thinking and start planning other ways to get into their course. Make sure you prompt them to find the solutions ‘do some research’, ‘see what TAFE offers’, ‘Is there a traineeship’, this will give them a feeling of accomplishment when they find the solution on their own.
Keep them busy
When your teenager is active, no matter what the results are, then they will have a more positive outlook on whatever happens. This is the most effective solution if they are haven’t received what they wanted. If they are active in a job or sport, then they will have their mind not focused on the outcome and more about what the next day will bring – which helps you when you need to talk to them about their future. This doesn’t mean that you create disciplines if they don’t keep active, like no TV, no mobile phone etc. Again, you want them to transition into adulthood, what you need to do is guide them into getting outdoors, finding a job, or getting more active with a sport.
Leaving high school is a big change and some kids will handle this transition differently from others. The most important thing you can do is keep things as normal as possible throughout the process and you don’t want them to feel pressure over the next few weeks, the last thing they need is more pressure from parents. The more you sit back and let them handle things themselves at this point in their lives, the better it will be.
Just listen to them and guide them into making the decision themselves.
How to get help?
If your child seems stuck or overwhelmed and you haven’t been able to help them.
WAYS offers free counselling services for young people and their families. If you would like to talk to someone, please call us on 9365 2500.
Visit the WAYS website to learn more about our community-based organisation, including our resources for parents and our programmes for children and teens.