A week into the HSC, it’s totally understandable if the most dreaded time of the year has got you totally overwhelmed as a parent. It’s one thing to sit the exams as a teenager and entirely another to have gone a blissful few decades without hearing another word of the H-word – until now.

After years of schooling, it’s every parent’s hope that their child excels at the HSC and gets accepted into a decent uni so they can get a good head start on their adolescent life. Seeing your child huddled over their study notes and constantly stressing out about their final exams probably has you wanting to help, but it’s important you offer them support in a healthy way.

Read on for our tips on how best to support your teen during the HSC!

Ask them how you can help  

When in doubt, go straight to the source. Have a conversation with your teen and ask them what they need from you and how you can help to alleviate their HSC-related stress. This could involve practical tasks such as helping to proofread their essays or timekeeping as they write their practice responses. Do they need a last-minute tutor to help with their revision? Do they need you to help them with their time management and study schedule? Or do they simply want to be left alone so they can study in peace?

At bare minimum, you should encourage your teen to get enough sleep and make sure to prepare them plenty of healthy meals that go beyond the usual sugary snacks and energy drinks.

Keep your cool

You might feel the all-too-familiar itch to nag or lecture at your teen, but just… Don’t. Do. It. Even if it means fighting against every fibre of your being as a parent. It’s crucial you try your best to maintain a calm, supportive environment. The HSC is one of the most stressful periods of your teen’s life and they’re probably studying their arse off, so go easy on them if they forget to do their chores or they’re more attitudinal than usual. The Brits said it best: Keep calm and carry on.   

Check in on their mental health (and your own)

Considering the times, the HSC period can be an incredibly stressful and isolating one for both parents and teens.

Now more than ever, don’t underestimate the importance of checking in on your teen’s mental health. Let them know that you’ll always be there for them and that you’re proud of them no matter what. Encourage positive thinking patterns and healthy ways to cope with stress such as meditation and exercise. Remind them that it’s OK to see their friends once in a while and they shouldn’t feel guilty about getting some down time. Most importantly, gently remind them (and yourself) that difficult periods will pass and the HSC is not the be-all-end-all.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself too. If you can manage it, stay connected with other parents so you have some form of support network. Organise brunch or drinks (why not both) with a small group of friends who get the struggle. Or FaceTime them instead if you want to play it safe.

Manage your expectations

It’s inevitable that every parent may worry about their child’s future. This anxiety can, however, manifest in harmful ways such as giving your child unhelpful reminders like how well their older sibling, cousin or family friend did in the HSC, which will only stress them out even more.

This is the time to learn how to manage your expectations in a healthy way. It’s important to be realistic about what your teen can achieve in the HSC. Nagging can only do so much and most likely, it’ll put more pressure on them or put them off entirely. There is a wisdom in not only being open to their mistakes but allowing them to make those mistakes themselves so they can learn from them.

Sometimes one of the best things a parent can do is to let go and trust their child. They just might surprise you!

Feel like treating your teen to something special? Why not visit one of the best Filipino restaurants in Sydney?  

Also published on Medium.