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Updated 25 November 2015

12 tips for parents to support their matriculant

Matric rates right up there as one of the most stressful times of life. That’s not just for the matriculants enduring the pressures of studying and the anxiety over their performance; it affects their families too.

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 Apart from the exams, a dramatic life-change is looming up ahead and big decisions need to be made about life after matric. 

So what can the parents of the hundreds of thousands of young South African currently sitting those most important exams do to provide the support that enables their children to be at their peak, mentally, physically and emotionally?

 We put Samantha Pretorius, Counselling Psychologist and Head of Programme at SACAP (the South African College of Applied Psychology) on the couch to share insights and advice that can help parents to create an enabling environment.

12 Tips for parents to support their matriculant

1.     When facing a stressed and anxious matriculant, replace a ‘been there, done that, now you can too’ approach with ‘I understand’ and encouragement;

2.     Acknowledge your child’s efforts.  Noticing and affirming their choices such as turning down a party to study or going for a quick run before getting back to the books can lift the spirits and instil confidence;

3.     Keep your expectations about this particular child’s Matric process and outcomes realistic and make adjustments if they are not.  Each child is different, and your child currently going through matric won’t be going through it like older siblings might have;

4.     See where you can help by temporarily relieving your matriculant of time-consuming family responsibilities. For instance, it is likely to be appreciated if they are not expected to say, babysit younger siblings as they might usually do;

5.     Model a healthy balance by inviting them out for walk or suggesting watching a favourite TV programme when they’ve been locked in studies for hours; 

6.     Provide positive, encouraging, ‘can-do’ messages;

7.     When it comes to making decisions about life after matric, be as open-minded as possible so that you can acknowledge and support the individuality of your child;

8.     Don’t assume that your career path would be good for your child; or that it wouldn’t be just because you did not enjoy it;

9.     Avoid getting into conflict. Conflict with someone as influential as a parent about what to do after matric, can prevent your child from getting on a path to success that is right for them;

10.  It is a great time to let go of the authoritarian role and instead become a fellow explorer and collaborator.  Showing an interest helps so much, as does practical support such as taking them to open days at potential higher educational institutions;

11.  Parents can help with the research of different careers fields and types of jobs.  They can activate their networks to find work shadow opportunities and help find bursary options;

12.  Keeping your focus on your unique child’s life satisfaction and future happiness will be a reliable guide for you as to what to do and say. 

Samantha also makes the point that it is also very important for a parent to realise that their child is part of the fastest-moving, quickest-changing generation known in history. 

“Career expectations, opportunities and trajectories have fundamentally changed over the last few decades,” she says, “The goal of 3-decade long career with one company, in one industry has been completely overturned. 

The rate of tech-driven change is so fast that there will even be a host of different careers available straight after your child has graduated from post-school studies.  The wise choice for parents at this time is to be open-minded and collaborative.”

Join SACAP’s ‘On the Couch’ chat sessions on Facebook every Tuesday night on the Mindset Facebook page from 3 November, where more questions are addressed, and matriculants and parents can engage directly with experts to get the support they need over this time.

For any matriculant interested in the field of psychology and counselling, SACAP offers a wide range of qualifications including (Higher Certificate, Advanced Certificate, Diploma, BAppSocSci, BPsych and BsocSci Honours) and a one-of-a-kind approach to learning: academic rigour and applied skills.

Graduating confident “work ready” practitioners is key, which is why SACAP combines an academically rigorous curriculum with a strong emphasis on the ability to apply knowledge through the training of relevant skills.

Registration for 2016 term one, closes at the end of January. For further information, visit: www.sacap.edu.za

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