Prepare your teen for leaving home

dad son car
dad son car
Susan Chlang

Your child’s final year at school is nothing if not frantic: there’s the studying for dozens of exams, the excitement of the matric dance, applying to tertiary institutions, and in many instances driving lessons too. It’s an exciting time in a child’s life as they prepare for early adulthood, but it can be hugely stressful too. 

As a parent how can you make this time easier for your child? 

Godfrey Madanhire is a professional motivational speaker, life coach and former teacher. Here he provides practical advice to parents on how to help their children bridge the gap between high school and adult life.

1. Leaving the house is a process, not a destination

It’s important for parents to understand that the process of helping your child move into adulthood can be a lengthy one – while they may physically be out of the house they will still need your help from time to time.

After this year though there will be a drastic drop-off in help required from you. Remember to be contactable and to organise meet-ups from time-to-time. 

2. Risk is good for your child

It’s only natural for parents to want to protect their children from harm, but letting them make the odd mistake will help them learn and grow. We often forget that some of the best lessons we learnt as adults came from making mistakes along the way.

But when things do go wrong for your child, be prepared to be supportive – try not to be condescending, and provide constructive advice on how to deal with the situation rather than say things like “I told you so”.

3. Help your child choose a path

With the end of their school career imminent, your child has all kinds of options open to them. Assist your child to make the right choice by taking them to universities and colleges to collect course information and get a sense of the campus environment.

If it looks like your child may need a gap year to assess their options (and if you are able to afford it), then encourage them to take short courses to get an idea of where their interests lie.

4. Help them get organised

Most successful adults are organised and work according to a schedule, and if your child hasn’t displayed signs of organisational skills yet, this is your last chance to help them before they go out on their own.

Help your child put a study schedule in place – this will be especially important when you aren’t around to check up on them. Assist them to create a wall chart above their desk to serve as a continual reminder, and help set up a designated study area where there are no distractions.

If they manage this for their final school exams, it should encourage them to keep these systems going after school.

5. Talk to them like an adult 

Changing how we talk to our children as they become young adults can be difficult. But changing your perception and the way you communicate with your child will help them grow.

Rather than dispensing advice, ask them questions about the subjects they are strong in. Encouraging your child to explain their work to you will motivate them and boost their confidence.

Once you’ve seen them become more mature you’ll feel more comfortable about their transition in general – and they will too.

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