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Parents, here's how to help your teen through Year 12 

This article appears in: Starting your studies
School children taking Year 12 exams

Year 12 can be a stressful time for both you and your child. Study, exams, and decisions about further education can feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be!

With some simple strategies and teamwork, Year 12 can be memorable, for all the right reasons.  

Here are a few tips to help.  

How can I connect with my teen? 

During the teenage years, your child is likely to want more privacy which can mean fewer conversations. However, this increased independence doesn’t mean that conversations should stop.  

Try to be more mindful about the times when you talk to your child. Over dinner, in the car, or before bed may work for them. Or encourage them to come to you when they’re ready.  

It’s important to balance respect for their privacy with connection. Ideally, they’ll view you as a mentor who’s readily available to give advice and listen to concerns.  

At times you may need to have difficult conversations with your child about school. Try to stay calm and empathetic and offer suggestions about overcoming the issues.  

Offering support will show your child that you can listen without judgment and that you value their honesty.

So, what are the conversations you should be having? 

Ask how they’re feeling  

Many teens experience stress and anxiety during Year 12, particularly around exam time or when making decisions about further education. If left untreated, this may become an issue.  

Regularly ask your child how they’re feeling and coping and watch for any behavioural changes such as withdrawal or low mood. If you notice any changes, ask your child what you can do to help or suggest some alternatives, such as speaking with a counsellor.  

It’s also worth reaching out to the school to see if there’s anything happening that your child may not want to tell you about.  

Ask about schoolwork and their passions  

At this age, your child may have developed a passion or interest in a particular subject or area. This is a good opportunity to talk to them about how they could link this with what they want to do after Year 12.  

Ask questions about what they’re doing at school and focus on how they can transfer those skills.  For example, “How is your latest art project coming along? Have you thought about considering a creative arts degree after school?’ 

Offer them choices  

Talk to your child about the different options available to them after they finish school. Reassure them that they’ll find their own path and that it’s ok to be unsure about their options or to change their mind.   

Offer suggestions that may help them pinpoint what they may like to do, but ultimately let them decide. It’s important to give them the choice and control over their lives. It’s also important to reassure them that their HSC exam results don’t determine their future. Failing to get the desired ATAR doesn’t rule out university.  

There are many alternative pathways into higher education degrees, if that is where your child wants to end up. An ATAR score is not the only way to enter! Check out the many ways to start studying at CDU.

Simple ways to help your teen thrive in Year 12  

Help them keep things in perspective  

Many Year 12 students experience moments of doubt about their abilities, their success and their future which can cause a negative perspective. Helping them to reframe their thinking can lessen this.  

Talk them through their fears or doubts and ask them to validate these feelings. What makes them feel this way? Has something happened? Why would the outcome be negative?  

Challenge and their views and offer a positive perspective. Reassure them that what they’re feeling is normal. Encourage them to practice self-compassion and be kinder to themselves. 

Help them manage their time  

Assignment dates, exam dates, career dates and university application dates. With so many dates to remember, it’s no wonder Year 12 can feel overwhelming. Diarising these dates and keeping on top of school communications will help.  

Diarising dates will assist with scheduling, planning, and staying on track. Ensuring that you both read all communication from the school will help you keep on top of what’s happening now and in the upcoming months.  

Monitor their physical and mental wellbeing 

Prioritising sleep, a balanced diet and regular exercise is important for your child’s physical and mental wellbeing.  

Without adequate sleep your child may struggle to concentrate on their studies, which may affect their motivation and results. Lack of sleep can also have an impact on their mood, causing increased stress or anxiety.  

Regular exercise and diet also play a big part in mental health, boosting brain function and fuelling the body with vital nutrients and feel-good hormones.  

Help them to maintain a healthy study/life balance  

Balancing study with relaxation and socialisation is important for your child. Too much study can lead to burnout and lack of connection with friends or family can cause feelings of isolation.  

Encourage your child to keep in regular contact with friends and to do things they enjoy. If they’re struggling with balance, help them create a weekly schedule to allocate their time evenly. 

Whatever their interests or career goals, there's something for every sort of school leaver at CDU. Choose from over 300 university degrees and VET qualifications plus free tertiary enabling programs.

Explore 300+ courses

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