'Just be present, hold, comfort, listen': How to cope with disappointing exam results

Parents, offer support and make an effort to show your child it is not the end of the world if they failed.
Parents, offer support and make an effort to show your child it is not the end of the world if they failed.

With the release of the recent matric results many social media posts have adopted an encouraging tone for the learners who did not pass this year.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) also released a statement congratulating everyone who wrote, and encouraging students who have failed.

"We wish to congratulate in particular learners who passed against the odds of poverty, suffering and at times going to class with an empty stomach. We also congratulate those who did not pass, because in essence they made it this far, sat for an exam and faced the odds'"  the statement reads.

"We wish them strength, resilience and endurance that they may continue to pursue education and knowledge despite this single setback."

On social media people have urged matriculants who did not pass to try again.

Here are some of the encouraging posts:

Parent24 recently warned parents of the possible increased risk in teen suicide around this time, after speaking to South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG)

Read more here: As matric results are released, is your teen at increased risk of suicide?

Now SADAG is sharing tips for parents of teens who might not have done well, or who perhaps failed, on how to cope with the feelings that may follow.

Struggle with disappointment 

Many matriculants struggle to cope with the disappointment of family members, loved one’s and friends when the final results are released.

Various situations can play out: a result is very low, some subjects weren’t passed, missed distinctions, results aren’t printed in the newspaper or some may grapple with the disappointment of parents, teachers, friends, loved one’s and scared of what the futures hold.

There are many ways to cope after receiving the results, but the most important element is parents being there for their children.

Offer support and make an effort to show them that it is not the end and that there is so much that can be done after a bad result, missed distinction or points too low for University entrance.

As a parent, one needs to validate their child on the importance of trying again, or striving to do better. We can only learn from our downfalls.

Here are some practical tips provided by SADAG to cope with disappointing matric results:

- Speak to the headmaster at the school about their options, especially if they have only failed by a small margin or only failed one subject.

- Consider asking for a remark on an exam.

- Ask about the possibility of a supplementary exam.

- If they have to redo the year, they could consider going to a different school.

- They could also do the subjects they need to through correspondence learning institutions, like Damelin.

- If they don’t have exemption or the necessary subjects for what they want to study, they can do bridging courses through colleges.

- Approach their school with questions; speak to the department of education or consider career counselling at colleges and universities.

It’s normal for someone to feel disappointed, angry, sad or numb after receiving an unexpected result.

When to worry?

When these normal feelings last longer than two to four weeks and physical symptoms start to show such as loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, loss of interest in things they used to enjoy, then there is cause for concern.

Encourage your teen to open up if they are having suicidal thoughts, and encourage them to speak to you, an aunt/uncle, a teacher, a friend - anyone they trust.

If you are not sure who to turn to, or feel your teen won't confide in anyone they know, or someone else you know is at risk, encourage them to reach out to SADAG or call 0800 567 567 or 0800 456 789 any day of the week to speak to a counsellor.

SADAG has trained counsellors available from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week.

Compiled for Parent24 by Anneline Hlangani

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