Leaving Cert season has come and gone again, the results are in and the dust has settled. For these Leaving Cert students, their two year cycle has seen them spend most of their time outside of the classroom. The usual images of jubilation were caught on camera, and proud parents shared the results on social media. There have been great achievements by many young people who have worked extremely hard, and these achievements deserve to be enjoyed and celebrated.
The other side, however, is that many young people were disappointed by the results for a range of reasons—they may have just missed the needed points for the course they really want, they may have not done well at all for a whole host of reasons or they may just feel they don’t quite measure up to their peers. So, whether you are celebrating or commiserating in your house, below are some ideas on how to support your teen as they cope with their results and start to make really big plans about their future.
- Keep it in perspective. There is so much hype around the exam that it can seem like a make or break situation. It really isn’t, but for a young person it may be difficult to see this. Understand this and recognise the importance of it to them, while supporting them to see that there will be many more opportunities in their lives.
- Manage your own anxiety. From their very first steps to their final flight from the nest, parents have been willing their child to do well. We want to see them happy and successful, and, when they stumble (as they will all do at some stage), it can be very difficult for parents to cope. Try not to convey your worry or disappointment to your son or daughter; they will pick up on it and it will only increase their own anxiety.
- Teach resilience. As adults, we all know that the times when we struggled or failed were the times that we really learned things about ourselves and how the world works. Many young people don’t have the life experience to see this yet, but you can help them to deal with their disappointment in positive ways and find the learning in their experience.
- Explore Options. Help your son or daughter to explore a range of options and help them see that they do have time to think and plan. They might find an unexpected path that they really enjoy.
- Avoid Comparison. This is really difficult as so many people will be asking and interested, but try to focus only on your son or daughter. Help them to see that others are on different paths and they only have control over their own.
- Communicate. We know that many young people are suffering from anxiety, and stressful situations such as the leaving cert and third level offers can be particularly difficult. Even if your son or daughter doesn’t want to talk, find ways to let them know that you are there and try to spend time with them. Don’t make the focus of everything on the exams—watch a movie; bake some bread; go for a walk. Find other thing to talk about.
This article was written by a member of Parenting Limerick. Parenting Limerick is a network of parenting and family support organisations.