Year 12 is a significant year for students. As they go through their final year of high school, sit end-of-school exams and make key decisions about their future, their year may be full of nerves and high-pressure moments. This makes your involvement in your child’s life at this time even more important. To help you, we’ve put together six ways to support your child during Year 12.
1. Stay connected
One of the best ways to support your child during Year 12 is to maintain a sense of family connectedness. Feeling loved, valued and heard is important for a teenage boy to experience. It also means that he is more likely to come to you for help when problems arise.
This can be fostered through effective and open communication. As parents, it’s easy to be too quick to jump in with advice and begin sharing your own thoughts, but active listening is important in supporting your son. Active listening encourages the other person to continue the conversation while making sure you understand what they are saying. As you listen to your son, validate his thoughts and feelings and ask him how he believes problems can be solved, rather than provide solutions for him.
2. Set goals
Take the time to have a conversation with your son about his goals before the school year commences. This allows both of you to develop realistic expectations. It will also help you get more of an accurate idea of how much work needs to be put in to achieve each goal. Don’t forget to celebrate him when he achieves his goals. Parents can often forget to praise their children or tell them how proud they are of them and instead focus on the things they’re not doing well enough.
3. Talk about the future
What does your son want to do at the end of Year 12? Have the conversation and prayerfully consider his next step. Does he want to take a gap year or go to university? Does he want to get an internship or take up an apprenticeship?
Throughout this process, keep things as normal as possible. Teenagers already put themselves under much pressure, so any additional stress from parents is unhelpful. It ultimately comes down to understanding your son and how he is feeling about the end of school. It’s a time of significant change in his life, and as parents, your role is to maintain a sense of stability so that he feels comfortable and confident in taking his first steps into the wider world.
4. Provide the necessary support
According to Dr Aliza Werner-Seidler, a clinical psychologist and senior research fellow at the Black Dog Institute, high school exams are among the most stress-provoking experiences that young people report. Year 12 is a big year for students, and each individual approaches the year in different ways.
Students who are perfectionists and expect much of themselves, may experience higher levels of stress, especially around exam periods. It will be effective for you to help your child understand that exam marks aren’t the ultimate goal.
“Some parents can really be focused on exam outcomes and it’s really unhelpful,” Werner-Seidler says. Instead, parents should help ensure that children have regular breaks and keep up their sporting activities and social arrangements. “There is more to life both after but also during exams,” she says. “And we know that taking regular breaks and also exercising have the consequence of reducing stress.” Read How to help your son through exam periods for more information.
Your son, however, might be the opposite – he might avoid studying entirely and procrastinate instead. For these students, it’s important to encourage them to study and to help them understand that although exams aren’t the most important thing, it is still worthwhile to invest time and energy in doing them well. Perhaps your son might not know where to start or is overwhelmed by the work that needs to be done. In these cases, sit down with your son and break down his workload into small, manageable steps.
5. Encourage a healthy lifestyle
To help ensure that your son has a strong year, encourage a healthy lifestyle. Healthy habits and routines include:
- making sure that they’re eating healthy and drinking enough water
- creating a healthy and supportive study environment at home
- exercising and staying fit, instead of cutting off all social and sporting activities to allow more time for study
- getting enough sleep. Create boundaries around time on phones or watching television. The recommended sleep range for 14 to 17 year old’s is between eight and 10 hours, which is more than what young people report getting.
6. Seek God’s guidance
Spending time in prayer, seeking God’s guidance and support, is something that is beneficial to all people, at any stage of life. Turning to God in prayer and petition amongst the stresses of Year 12 is no different. Encourage your son to pray regularly and actively listen for God’s answers. So many fail to remember that prayer is a conversation between a father and his child. It goes both ways. Reading His Word (the Bible) is another perfect source of His guidance. Maybe a verse will stand out or you may simply gain understanding from a passage. There are so many ways God can use prayer, Scripture and the world around us to comfort us, help us learn or guide us through life’s tough periods.
Trinity’s Pastoral Care guidelines focus on the fundamentals of good parenting — providing both care and discipline — enabling boys to grow into self-confident, trustworthy and resilient young men. Combined with an ongoing partnership between the School and home, your son will thrive in a consistent, caring and nurturing environment.
For over a century, Trinity has been nurturing and encouraging boys from Pre-Kindergarten to Year 12 to grow in mind, body and spirit. To discover the Trinity difference, and how we help boys to realise their potential, passion and purpose, register for our Open Day.