TEENS: Helping our kids through Year 12

29 August 2017

Year 12 can be pretty hectic for all involved! The constant assignments, stressful exams, post-school future looming and the pull of increasing independence can take its toll on students and parents alike.

Luckily there are practical ways that you can help your teenagers get through Year 12 exams and make it out the other side. The experts at Reachout share their tips on how:

The basics

  1. Time: Give them time off chores and non-urgent family stuff.
  2. Health: Pop out on a study break walk with them and cook wholesome meals.
  3. Sleep: Help them get 8 – 10 hours sleep per night – an app like Recharge can help
  4. Space: Help them set up their study zone and coach the rest of the family to respect this.

Great expectations

If you’re confident with the four areas above, well done! Now it’s time to start thinking about pressure and expectations. Whether we like it or not, a lot of weight is placed on final exams with many teenagers seeing it as a be-all-or-end-all situation. It’s important that as a parent you’re aware of what contributes to this pressure and instead be a source of support for your teenager. There are lots of different pathways for people to get into further study or a career, so if your teenager’s results don’t quite go as planned they will always have options.

One thing that you can do is take some time to reflect on your own expectations and whether they match your teen’s. We know that questions like ‘What marks will my child get?’ and ‘What will that mean for their future?’ swirl around in most parents’ heads, but if you can both get on the same page exam and results time will be far less stressful on you both. If you need help, this quick 10 question quiz can guide you through this and give you some tips on what to do next.

The future

The final piece in the puzzle is talking about the future. Being 17 or 18 and feeling like you have to decide your whole life’s trajectory in one go can be pretty daunting. For some it’ll be clear but for others it won’t be, and there really isn’t a right or wrong to this.

Reachout spoke to four families with teenagers who went on totally different paths, to see what worked best for them and here are the tips they came up with:

  • Have open and honest conversations about what they like and dislike. Saying things like ‘Are you still interested in…?’ or ‘What’s your favourite subject?’ can be a good place to start.
  • Let them figure it out. Provide direction without pushing them into anything. One mother said: “I think you're there to guide your children, not to tell them what to do.”
  • Be open minded. Maybe they want to get a job, move out of home or go travelling, maybe they want to go to university or TAFE. The aim of the game is to listen and support them to make decisions that work for them.
  • Encourage them to define it on their own terms. Don’t let them get bogged down in what their peers are doing. If university isn’t for them, it’s OK to explore other things!
  • Give them time. A father said: “We live longer than ever before and we’re probably going to be educated for the rest of our lives… Let them procrastinate, let them explore, let them make mistakes, let them try things and work out that it doesn't work.”
  • Talk about the future as something exciting! Though it might seem scary right now the future is full of possibilities and your teenager will feed off your energy. If you’re excited they’ll get excited too!

Now we get that this is all quite a lot to do! So in the next week why don’t you just choose one of the tips above – write it down, put a reminder in your phone, tell a friend, whatever works for you. With each action you’ll build on your skills to support your teen to tackle Year 12 exams at the end of the year.



Written by

Annie Wylie

Annie Wylie is the Content Manager at ReachOut Parents. She has 5+ years of experience across the media and not-for-profit sectors, using her passion and expertise for achieving better outcomes for vulnerable communities to produce stories, resources and events that matter.

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