What parents need to know to get their kids through Year 12.

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If you’re the parent of a year 12 student, it’s probably an extremely rare occasion that you are graced with their presence.

And when you are, you may be startled to find this frazzled, anxiety-riddled wreck, formerly known as your child.

Thoughtfully (and masking your own intense anxiety about their well-being) you nudge them towards a nutritious breakky and remind them of that assignment they have due tomorrow.

“How  much study did you get done last night?” you ask, curious and genuinely interested.

*Nailed it*

Ahhh are you on crack? No you most certainly did not nail it. In fact, you probably just increased their nerve-factor ten-fold.

According to Zoe Mallett who completed her final year of school last year, this is the worst thing you can do. The kids are putting enough pressure on themselves without you adding to it, however well-intentioned.

“My parents were just supportive and wanted me to do the best I could do… The pressure was purely stemmed from my own expectations and my own desire to do well,” she said.

The Victorian student filmed her school year, from the boy dramas to her mental illness, and is now airing it for Australia to see on new ABC documentary, My Year 12 Life

And this week on our parenting podcast, she shared what she learned. But more importantly, what PARENTS need to learn so you can all make it through the school year without anyone drawing up emancipation papers.


So what should you do? Zoe tells Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo on This Glorious Mess:

Zoe’s advice is simple: “parents just need to chill out.”

“I would say to not place any pressure on them whatsoever. Even if you have expectations of them, don’t tell them. Just support them and love them and guide them. Make sure they know that they’re worthy and valuable and that their ATAR doesn’t define them,” she said.

This girl is wise beyond her years. Someone get her a job as a school counsellor, stat.

According to the new graduate, telling them they’re going to fail if they don’t work hard is not the best motivator.

“It’s all about the way you convey the message and the way you communicate it to your child… You need to encourage them, show them their capabilities, show them what they’re good at, speak to them about what they want to get out of their life,” she advises.

“It’s more encouraging and you’re highlighting their potential instead of telling them what the consequences would be if they don’t try hard enough.”

Zoe Mallett in crisis mode. Image: ABC.

The teenager added that it is important to create a nurturing environment for your child to come home to.

"Home needs to be a place where the kids can come and be able to relax and not necessarily feel the pressure 100 per cent of the time. Home needs to be a good environment where they feel loved," she said.

And it sounds like that's exactly what Zoe had.

So after all the studying and the anxiety, was it worth it? How did Zoe go?

"I'm....... satisfied," she said without giving too much away.

We'll all just have to watch the show and find out!

Are your kids doing their HSC or VCE? Tell us how you're coping in the comments.

You can listen to the full episode here:

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