CHILDREN | 24 NOV 2019
AGHH- SURVIVAL GUIDE for Parents of Senior High School Students
When did it all become so hard??
I’ve reached a milestone- my eldest child is about to enter year 12 (The last 12 months of schooling). As a psychologist and parent, I know likely she will swing between being stressed, moody and irritable, to being, happy to “I don’t care anymore”. Any of my friends who have travelled this well -worn path say that there is lots of blogs out there on how to help my child- but How Do I Survive? We do the HSC TOO!!
Many have given me the advice- Take lots of deep breaths before going in!
- Mantra’s of “I must not Yell, I must not Yell”
- Walking is my friend- just to get out of the house
- She/he will become human again in 12/6/4/2 months- singing in your head- “I will survive”
Parents doing the HSC often say their biggest worries about their teens are studying too much, or not studying at all or very little. We are worry will they burnout, are they too stressed, are they becoming anxious or depressed. We worry why don’t they care about this year, what happens if they drop out, what will they do when they finish, partying to much, working jobs too much, not seeing friends, are we giving them too many chores, there rooms are messy, they are eating too much, too little. What if they get glandular fever? What happens if we don’t give them enough responsibility, letting them get away with too much or too little, do I get them a tutor, do I help them with their homework, or let them do it themselves. Parent’s brains can go into meltdown
No wonder parents are stressed. Our brains go into overdrive as our parental protective instincts take over, for better or worse. Unfortunately, as parents our stress levels then tend to coincide with a spike in our teens stress levels, usually around major assignments or exams, which is not conducive to studying or family harmony.
As parents and adults, we do have a responsibility to try to keep calm as best we can. Our brains are fully formed – our teen’s brains are not. This means although they are nearly 18, their brain is still functioning with the emotional centre at the forefront particularly when they are stressed. They are going to cry, get angry, get worried before their thinking brain takes over.
How do we stay calm and survive?
- Remember it’s a marathon not a sprint you have 12 months of possible stress, but there is an end
- Talk to friends regularly, especially if they have gone through it before
- Exercise it helps with your stress and worry
- Set out expectations with your teen about chores/ tidying rooms in advance. You may want to give them some slack during major exams. This helps reduce the possible arguing and tiring negotiations.
- Walk away if you think you are going to yell and become angry- go to your room, go for a walk. Come back and talk to your teen when you are calm. It may be the next day.
- Pick your battles- Is it worth the fight about the messy room/clothes on the floor
- Have fun with friends/ family / your teen. Make sure you have regular time- diary it if you have too. This is important to maintain connection- they may complain “I don’t want to- I don’t have time” etc. The break and re-connection will re-energise them and you
- Reminders that the HSC is not going to make or break your child’s career. It’s important to have a goal- but there are many avenues for career paths
- If worried speak to your GP or local psychologist
And from the wise Year 12 teen:
“Don’t be a helicopter parent, give us the Spanish inquisition or tell us YOUR expectations -We might stuff up, but we are giving it a go and we will be OK”