For year 12 child the end of classes, uniforms and 13 plus years of school fast approaches. Most of us would assume that this is a time of great excitement and relief for our children albeit for those wretched exams.
However, for many students this is a time of significant grief and anxiety about the end of an era and uncertainty about what lies ahead. Letting go of the anchor that school provides, even if you despised learning and found school rules ridiculous, can be a challenge for Year 12’s. They have waited so long for the end of this year, for the conclusion of their time at school but when it finally arrives your child can be shocked at their emotional response.
Some will feel just fine, whilst others will feel a sadness that they are letting go of a security that they have had for years. Many clients have said to me “what will my day look like next year” “I won’t get to see my friends all day everyday”....”this all I have ever known”.
The combination of moving from the known into the unknown is a huge step. Each new step can always be met with a mix of eager participation and a sense of loss. To have a new beginning there has to be an ending and sometimes endings make people sad. For some this sadness or anxiety can prevent them from enjoying those end of year activities, or they will feel “weird” that they are not thrilled like everyone else around them seems to be. This can be particular so for boys. Girls are much more likely to shed tears and hug each other on those days. Our boys will often remain silent, even a little gruff as they protect the swell of emotion that lies beneath. Concern that they will lose their connection to their mates, even to those teachers or coaches that had such impact on those last 6 years can sit uncomfortably.
What can I do to help?
Explain to your child that some people like change, while others take time. Acknowledge their feelings, let them know that they will experience a number of mixed emotions
It’s okay to feel sad and worried, even if those around them don’t appear to be. Remember these feelings aren’t bad...they are emotions that are part of a process. These feelings will diminish in time.
Be careful not project your own mixed emotions about watching your child finish school onto them. Explain that you will reminisce about their first day of school and maybe feel a little sad but proud of them finishing Year 12.
Once feelings are acknowledged and processed you can move forward, you can manage the end of year activities and celebrate, even though there may well be a little sadness there.