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Navigating Year 12: Supporting Your Child’s Mental Health Through ATAR Exams

"You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." - A.A. Milne

As a parent, witnessing your child go through the final year of high school and preparing for ATAR exams can be both exciting and challenging. It's a period filled with academic pressures, heightened emotions, and looming uncertainties about the future. Amidst all this, supporting your child's mental health becomes paramount. Here are some strategies to help your child navigate Year 12 and ATAR exams while prioritizing their mental well-being:

1. Open Communication:

Encourage open discussions with your child about their feelings, fears, and aspirations. Create a safe space where they can express themselves without judgment. Listen actively, validate their emotions, and offer support and encouragement. As well as asking them what they need from you to help them through this journey.

2. Manage Expectations:

Help your child set realistic goals and expectations for themselves. Remind them that their worth is not solely determined by their exam results. Emphasise the importance of personal growth, resilience, and effort rather than focusing solely on achieving a certain ATAR score.

3. Encourage Balance:

Promote a balanced lifestyle by encouraging regular breaks, physical activity, and leisure time.

Encourage hobbies and interests outside of studying to provide a healthy outlet for stress. Emphasise the importance of sleep and nutrition in maintaining mental and physical well-being.

4. Provide Practical Support:

Offer practical support such as helping to create a study schedule, providing access to resources like tutoring or study guides, and creating a conducive study environment at home. Be available to assist with any challenges or questions they may have about their studies.

5. Teach Coping Strategies:

Equip your child with coping strategies to manage stress and anxiety. Teach relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, mindfulness, or progressive muscle relaxation. Encourage positive self-talk and reframing negative thoughts. Remind them of past successes and their ability to overcome challenges.

6. Foster Resilience:

Encourage a growth mindset by emphasizing the importance of resilience and learning from setbacks. Help your child see challenges as opportunities for growth rather than insurmountable obstacles. Celebrate their efforts and progress along the way, regardless of the outcome.

7. Seek Professional Help if Needed:

Monitor your child's mental health and be alert to any signs of distress or significant changes in behavior. If you're concerned, don't hesitate to seek professional help from a counsellor, psychologist, or mental health professional. It's important to prioritise your child's well-being above all else.

8. Celebrate Achievements:

Celebrate milestones and achievements throughout the year, not just the end result. Acknowledge their hard work, perseverance, and dedication regardless of the outcome of their exams. Let them know that you're proud of them for who they are, not just their academic achievements.

Navigating Year 12 and ATAR exams can be a challenging time for both parents and students alike. By prioritising your child's mental health and well-being, you can help them navigate this period with resilience, confidence, and support. Remember to foster open communication, manage expectations, encourage balance, provide practical support, teach coping strategies, foster resilience, seek professional help if needed, and celebrate achievements along the way. With your guidance and support, your child can thrive academically and emotionally as they embark on this important journey.

Good Luck to all the students completing year 12 this year. (Including my daughter)

Candise Adams

Safe Counselling Australia

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