Next year is a big year and a big change. Your teen is about to start their life as an adult, spread their wings relishing in their newfound freedom, and enter their first year at university. While it is indeed a proud and exciting time, they are also sure to be inundated with new responsibilities and various pressures, along with being surrounded by plenty of temptation. So, what can you, as a parent, do in order to sufficiently prepare them to handle this new phase in their life with grace and confidence? Here are some tips.
Stop doing everything for them
Do you still do your teen’s laundry? Their ironing? Do you still cook them a meal every night? If so, it’s time to stop. When they are living in their new digz, it will be up to them to take proper care of themselves. That means that they will need to learn the various skills necessary to do that now, long before they are due to move out. While you don’t have to expect them to do everything immediately, encouraging them to cook a meal for the family once or twice a week isn’t an unreasonable request.
Remind them that it’s ok to ask for help
Not only will your teen be faced with a number of new challenges as they begin their varsity career, but they are also likely to suffer from feelings of homesickness. Depression is also currently a problem among South African students. As such, it is imperative that you make sure that your teen is comfortable asking for help when they need it. Remind them that you will always be there to lend a hand or give some advice, and that even though they will be living alone, they certainly aren’t alone when it comes to the bigger picture.
Speak to them openly about what your experience was like when you first began varsity. If they are a first-generation student, find a mentor or friend who can talk comfortably about their experiences.
Speak to them about both the positive things, as well as the different challenges which you faced. Even if you did not attend a tertiary institution, you can chat about your first few years of becoming an adult and how you fared. This type of conversation can help to both build trust and empathy, all the while giving your teen some insight into what they can expect going forward.
Make them aware of the dangers
There is no denying that there are plenty of dangers facing teens as they enter adult life. From drugs and alcohol to STDs, and for the ladies, femicide. Teach them how to stay safe and protect themselves and be sure to emphasise how important it is to remain responsible. This goes for things like not drinking and driving, practising safe sex, and attending all their lectures.
Expect mistakes and encourage resilience
There is no getting away from the fact that your teen is going to make mistakes. It’s all part of the learning experience, after all. Your job as a parent is to encourage resilience so that they are able to bounce back from these mistakes, as well as their failures.
Once you have tackled the serious subjects that come with your child starting varsity, take some time to sit back and marvel at the fact that they are all grown up. Spend time together and enjoy the festive season. Before you know it, they will be all settled in their digz and ready to commence the next, exciting chapter in their life.