The long-awaited summer holidays are just around the corner and we hope that the whole TBGS community enjoy a pleasant, relaxing and healthy summer.
Students experience lots of changes as they go through their academic year, some might just be looking forward to the break and spending time with family and friends; some might be anxious about any planned or unexpected changes ahead; some on the way to University or experiencing holidays away from home for the first time. We recognise that it might be an anxious time for many and we hope that parents might find the following top tips helpful.
Keeping Teens occupied through the summer
Mixed feelings about the summer holidays? It can be lovely to have your child at home more, especially if they have been experiencing an amount of stress or anxiety over their end of year exams, but six weeks of unstructured and unproductive free time can leave some parents willing the start of the September term to arrive!
Finding a way to help your child relax and learn skills over the holiday period is encouraged.
Help your child to develop their own holiday plan Ask how they intend to spend their holidays, encourage them to consider different activities and plan ahead
Structure Developing a structure for each day is helpful, encouraging them to help at home develops responsibility and routine.
Sleep Regular and healthy sleeping patterns establish good habits. Late night films or online activities will lead to day time sleeping – a habit which will be hard to break when the new term starts.
Focus Help encourage a community/family/voluntary project – giving your child a sense of purpose and responsibility.
Encourage new skills Perhaps your child has struggled with organising him/herself over the school year? – working on this over the summer would be an ideal opportunity. Or perhaps you are keen that they learn to make their own decisions about certain aspects in their life – encourage this – try stepping back from making decisions for your child – encourage positive communication.
Teens going on holiday without parents for the first time
With festival season and hopefully a warm summer fast approaching the first holiday without mum or dad is often inevitable but unfortunately each summer we hear of stories in the news about students who have taken risks and unfortunately some who have lost their lives through drink/drugs/water based activities.
The following are some tips from other parents which may help …
Who is going away with your child? Often smaller groups are best, a lot more manageable and disagreements are less likely to happen.
Meet the parents Getting to know the parents of your child’s friends often helps to alleviate anxieties for all concerned, make a note of their contact details just in case of any emergencies or to check travel arrangements. Maybe consider a social get together prior to your child’s trip away.
Communicate Your child will clearly want to feel trusted and feel older than their years but it is important to plan with your child for those possible situations that may occur for example:-
- How would your child react if their friend drank too much, or took drugs and had a bad reaction? What would they do?
- What would they do if their money or their phone was stolen or lost?
- Is there a landline where they are staying that they could give to you?
- Do you have their friends’ phone numbers?
- Does your child know where the nearest hospital might be or the number of a local taxi firm?
- Does your child know basic first aid – have they packed a basic first aid kit?
Contact with your child Agree before they leave how much contact you would like. You might be happy just to have a text to say they have arrived at their destination safely or you might prefer a daily text or call to know they are safe.
Emergency contact Has your son/daughter got ICE in their ‘phones (In Case of Emergency). This is recognised by all emergency services and if someone is unconscious the emergency services do check phones for ICE contacts.
Peer Pressure Discuss this with your son/daughter before they go away – what would they do if they felt under pressure to do something they would consider as unsafe? Can they cope with being different from their friends? Talk about the dangers of taking risks and keeping themselves safe.
Weather Your child may not be used to packing their own clothes for a trip away, encourage them to consider wet/dry clothes and the importance of wearing sun cream.
Where will you be? Just in case of emergencies are you contactable for your son/daughter – will you be able to get to them if they need you urgently? If not perhaps consider asking another relative to be on stand-by and make sure your child has their number.
Sex & drugs Talk about the risk of STDs and taking substances – it’s probably something that your child might see as ‘nagging’ but it is important they are fully informed.
Keep busy! It will possibly be the longest time for you as a parent when your son/daughter is away from home for the first time. Try to think of all the positive experiences they will have – keep yourself busy with activities – you will have plenty of washing on their return!
Your son/daughter is starting University
Some students settle very quickly into University life and others find the transition more difficult from school to independent living and university life.
Most students have a mixed experience of the transition, often feeling homesick; worrying about fitting in and making new friends; anxiety about the workload. Encouraging your child to ‘give it time’ is important, there is no under-estimating the huge undertaking of moving away from home and starting up on your own. Early social contact with other students is highly recommended, finding someone who has the same or similar interests is key in helping your child settle. Encourage joining clubs/societies at the earliest opportunity.
There will be a strong pastoral department at the university – if your child continues to find settling in a struggle advise that they speak with someone who might be able to offer practical advice.
For parents, being at the end of the phone and willing to listen, is important. This reminds them that there are still people who care and offers them a different perspective on their worries. Let them know it is normal to feel anxious as they start a new chapter in their life.
If your child has persistent difficulties settling in, over a sustained period of time, you may wish to contact the University to discuss your concerns. The University will have an obligation of privacy towards its students, however, and will not usually be able to discuss your son/daughter’s welfare with you – although, you will be able to pass on your concerns to a member of staff. The University will do everything possible to help your son/daughter settle and will offer support if approached by your child.
We wish you all a very happy and healthy summer break