As children grow and develop, they participate in a range of new experiences, with the “journey” from birth to adulthood being shaped by several awaited and expected transitions. These transitions occur across a range of context and help us to evolve in new environments. It is important to note that transition is associated with a change, which is something that happens for all of us. The concept of transition involves how we process, manage, and respond to the change.

As adults, we work hard to prepare young children for change. We give time warnings and talk through expected events in finite detail. We walk alongside our children as they face change and help to manage any tricky feelings. As our children grow and move into adolescence, we tend to take a step back and hope that we have given them the skills to transition on their own. We are aware that transitions can be challenging for young people, but we lose the ability to wrap around them as they pull away and seek independence.

Regardless of their life stage, transition presents opportunities and challenges for our children as routines, interactions and settings require different social, emotional, or physical responses. Our children are required to learn and adapt to different ways of operating. One of the biggest is the transition from Year 12 to “life after school”. Whilst this is usually a positive and exciting time for most students, it is a transition where parents need to step back into the guiding and support role, to assist them to navigate the vast changes ahead, whilst also buffering the fear of the “unknown” that they inevitably face.

Here are helpful tips for both students and parents, about how to best navigate what lies ahead:

1. Expect to feel lost and uncertain – Transition thrusts us into an unknown emotional state. What can be useful is considering the elements of control that we have in moving forward to a new future. Maintaining a health daily routine, planning for social connection, and practicing patience can assist in managing uncertainty. We are out of our comfort zone at these times, so it is ok not to know all the answers.

2. Practice gratitude – It is important to acknowledge and appreciate what has been, whilst looking forward to the future. Keep in mind that with every change, an opportunity is provided for a fresh start. Some transitions may bring about a sense of grief, but remember, grief brings an opportunity for growth, gratitude, and learning.

3. Plan for social connection and seek support – Many students find the time between finishing school and starting their “next chapter” incredibly isolating and lonely, as they no longer have regular access to social connection. It is therefore important to actively seek out connection. Call a friend or plan for a get together. We are social creatures and embracing others in our lives helps facilitate smooth transitions.

4. Manage stress – Get to know your helpful coping strategies and put them into practice during times of transition. This could include hanging out with friends, engaging in a hobby, exercising, or exploring relaxation strategies. It is equally important to know your triggers for stress, so that you can reinforce strategies that foster rather than hinder adaptation. Managing stress well is a life skill and one that takes practice. The more practice you get, the more readily equipped you are in problem-solving and facing new challenges that inevitably come along in the future.

And finally…

5. Don’t forget Mum and Dad – As exciting as finishing school can be for students, if can be met with mixed emotions from mums and dads. It is a parents’ job to raise their children to be independent and to leave home, but it is important that we don’t forget where we came from and who was there to support us, no matter what. Once you’re off and experiencing the new, exciting world of “life after school”, try not to forget the importance of family. Keep your parents involved in your life. A meaningful conversation every now and then will work wonders.

Best of luck on the journey that lies ahead.

Jennifer Johnson-Saul
School Counsellor

2023 TGS Year 12 graduation

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