Helping Your Teen Thrive After School
The transition from school to the adult world can be a tough (and daunting!) transition. As we meet students in this season of life, there are a range of emotions they express, including excitement, worry, fear and anticipation - often all at the same time! As parents, you may also be feeling these emotions, understandably - it’s a big time of life for you too! Your teen will look to you for guidance and support in varying degrees, and while it can be tempting to try to do everything for your teen, it’s important to balance your help with allowing them to learn things on their own.
So... what's next?
Making a decision as to what they should move into after graduation can be difficult and seem overwhelming with the range of options they can choose. Encourage your teen to make a decision and reassure them that they can change their mind later- whether it’s choosing a uni course which they can switch out of later, or working while they continue to explore options.
Bonus tip: for students who have chosen to attend university, encourage them to look for scholarships they may be eligible for.
While many young people may have been working casually and some may have taken accounting as a subject at school or uni, there isn’t often formal guidance on personal finance. For many young people, an increase in freedom and finances can see them make poor decisions surrounding their finances, which can have a negative impact on other financial decisions they would like to make in the future. Make time to have a conversation with your teen in regards to their finances, including considering expenses they currently or will soon have and short term and long term goals they would like to achieve. Encourage your teen to consider a budget and savings account which they can start developing healthy financial habits with now.
Some good websites for advice on setting up a budget can be found below.
Moving out of home
Many teens are excited about moving out of home and gaining some independence, while for parents this can be a bit of a sad time! For teens it can also be a bit of a wake-up for them as they move from the comfort and familiarity of home and living with family, to living with new people in a new household.
Paying bills and buying their own groceries are two areas that young people may struggle with at first. Encourage your teen to set out their budget to help them figure out what kind of rent they can afford. For teens who have never grocery shopped, also give them a general guide on what they should include in their grocery shop, such as veggies, fruit, staples such as rice, pasta, tinned tomatoes and beans, toiletries and cleaning products.
Moving in with new people can be stressful in the adjusting period as the new housemates learn to live together. Remind your teen that good communication is vital for any living situation, and encourage them to have discussions with their housemates in regards to the use of communal living areas, a cleaning schedule, house rules such as visitors and noise curfews, and rent payment.
Bonus tip: establish a family meal that your teen can still share with the rest of family and come home for. They'll miss you as much as you miss them, and this will help them feel supported and loved, even from afar!
For many young people leaving school also means leaving the security of a daily routine, their friend group and support from teachers. General concerns can turn into anxiety, and many young people struggle with their mental health in dealing with transitions. We’ve spoken previously on how to talk to your teen about mental health (https://redfrogs.com.au/information-for-parents/talking-to-your-child-about-mental-and-emotional-health), and it’s important to remind your teen about the support available to them if they do feel themselves becoming overwhelmed and burdened mentally and emotionally.
Relationships with friends and family are important supports in this time of transition, when many young people do experience feelings of loneliness and isolation. If you hear your young person complaining that they feel like they have no friends, gently remind them that it takes two people to build and maintain a friendship, and encourage them to reach out to old friends, or to make new friends. Suggest social clubs, sport groups, or hobbies to meet new people. Also encourage them to seek out a mentor in their area of study or a passion area who can help guide them in their plans to reach their life goals. Relationships and community are important in all stages of life, but especially in transition seasons. Having a good support system can help us get through these seasons feeling confident and loved.