We are coming towards the end of exam season.
After the intensity - relaxation and winding down from the angst - has to be a priority for your teen (and for yourself!).
Whilst your child will undoubtedly hold feelings of elation - that they "got through it!" and/or may give the obligatory thanks to their God "now that that's over!" - we as parents/carers also have to be mindful that there is the likelihood of more negative feelings seeping through at this time.
In my 20+yrs of working with young people, including as a GCSE and A Level Psychology teacher, I came to learn a few things from my students, about how they truly felt post-exam season.
Here is just some of what they shared:
A sudden loss of purpose
Following the high of not having to get up and go to school - young people found that without the structure and routine which they had had years of - many expressed that they soon felt lost.
To them it didn't feel like a 'school-holiday-kind-of-break' from school.
There was a new thought to grapple with which was one of permanency.
Even for those who the school system had struggled to accommodate - the loss of purpose could be overwhelming.
After the formation of close relationships and bonds with teachers, which intensifies in the build up to exam season - there was the sudden realisation that they were no longer in the centre of focus.
There were no longer check-ins on work.
The register even - after having every single minute of their school day monitored and accounted for - suddenly no one from school was remotely interested in where they were or what they were up to.
No adults safeguarding them.
No concern for their welfare.
Not only this, but a building where they spent the majority of their childhood - suddenly became off-limits.
They were no longer 'allowed' or welcome onto school grounds!
Life moving on without them
Again, after the initial novelty wore off - the understanding that the routines for everyone else carried on.
The world kept on turning regardless of their participation in it.
Parents got up for work.
Younger siblings got up and went to school.
The hustle and bustle of the morning routine was there, until it wasn't. When everyone leaves - there is silence.
A sense of loss
There is a realisation that even in this day and age of social media - that love them or loathe them, there are some peers they will just never see again.
There are some peers they wish they had spent more time getting to know.
There are regrets, memories and that feeling of nostalgia that envelopes them in waves.
This can set in because they are 'supposed' to feel happy.
They are growing up. They have left school. They've expressed over a hundred time "I can't wait 'til I leave school!".
This is what they wanted right?
Children have expressed the incongruence between what they thought they would feel and what they actually felt. This incongruence was also reflected in what they shared with friends/parents/others.
Left alone with their own thoughts, panic can often set in.
The identity questions begin to fly: "Who am I" "What am I doing?" "What is the actual meaning of my life?"
I could go on - but you get the idea!
My advice to you - is to head-off these thoughts and feelings by having open conversations about them.
Help your child to identify them. Name the emotions. Normalise them. Let them know it's okay.
We want to avoid our children believing that they shouldn't be thinking or feeling the way in which they do.
If they don't experience any of the above - that's okay too!
Find out how they ARE feeling. They will be feeling something! It's a humongous transition!
Get them talking - and the best way to do that is to share your stories.
What stories of transition that you experienced, can you now share with your child?