Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The Last Goodbye: Helping Your Child Cope with Leaving School

The saying ‘Time waits for no man’ could not be more relevant for a mother. One moment your little cherubs are bum-shuffling around and the next they are young adults ready to make their own way in the world. The massive leap between school and higher education is a key time for any teen; it is often defined as the step between being a child and becoming an adult. However just because your little girls and boys are growing up doesn’t mean they don’t need your support. (Even if they think they don’t need it)

These days’ schools play a far greater role than just education in your child’s life. For them the school system has been a safe bubble; its own micro-world with rules, boundaries and expectations which they have resided in for most of their young lives. For a teen to suddenly be brought out of this environment that they consider the norm into the ‘real world’ is an emotional and life changing event for any young person. Your children will be leaving behind friends they have known for years and often this will be the first kind of separation since their primary school years.

When considering how to help your children get through this major event is their life, there are several things you must remember:
·         Firstly, at this age everything is a big deal; how many times have your children acted like it was the end of the world when you ask them to wash up? This is normal, at this age of a child’s development their brain put high priority on things we might consider unimportant. Be patient and understanding, we were all young once and your teenage years are often the best in your life.

·         Secondly, just because they say they are ‘ok’ or ‘not bothered’ doesn’t mean they are. Teenage boys especially are notorious for bottling up their worries, however don’t pester them too much, this usually yields poor results. Try talking to them as adults, give them space and when they are ready to talk they usually will.

·         Finally don’t panic! I know it’s not an easy thing to do, especially when you think your children are stressed or worrying, but trust me it’ll only make it worse. What you have to remember is, even when they don’t seem to, your teens still look to you for security and guidance. Keeping a cool head will help convince your children that everything is ok and they are probably just overreacting.

One of the major reasons teenagers can get so stressed about leaving is that it is often seen as a negative experience and is sometimes overly dramatized by parents and teachers. The best way I have found to help the transition is to make it a positive experience by celebrating their time together with friends and all that has happened. Have a leaving party and let them say good bye to their friends in a positive manner rather than a sad goodbye. One great way to help them get through this time this is through things like leavers hoodies, which is a great memento to take away to uni with them. Organising an event with other parents is a great way to surprise your children and create a comradeship that lets them have a memento of their time at school and helps them remember that they are not alone in their new adventure.

Leaving school lets your children mature into unique individuals, it is a hard transition period and they will need lots of understanding and support. However remember that it is always an exciting and happy time of growth and new experiences. Remember to you your children will never stop being your little babies and most importantly deep down they feel the same.

Sam Fisher is writing on behalf of Banana Moon, a t-shirt printing company who specialises in personalised t-shirts, hoodies for school leavers, sports kits and workwear.


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