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How to help your teen prepare for varsity

(and give them the freedom they need to flee the nest)

You’ve been around the block as a parent long enough to know that letting go isn’t always easy. With each milestone comes a new adventure that asks you to take an even bigger step back as you allow your child to run a little further on their own.

Sending your teen off to university might feel like the hardest “letting go” yet. One of the major stepping stones in your child’s road to independent adulthood. While it is so important for your child to experience the freedom to truly spread their wings, there are a few ways that you can equip your teen to flourish as a university student (and give yourself a bit more peace of mind in the process).

1. Ask them about their fears and uncertainties

Even though your child might be counting the days before their varsity career kicks off, they most likely have a few doubts and uncertainties tugging at their hearts too. Make time to sit down and talk through some of the emotions they might be going through. Simply listening and reassuring them that what they are feeling is normal will bring great comfort!

2. Work out a game plan

The transition from high school to varsity can be a bit of a bumpy one, and your child may receive a workload that they’re not quite used to. Put your heads together to develop a game plan for when stresses start to mount – like working out regularly, eating healthy food, prioritising rest and saying “no” more often. This will equip your child to stay focused and balanced amidst the chaos of student life.

3. Be real about the social pressures that come with student life (but don’t preach)!

The social side of varsity life can be both a gift and a challenge. While your child will forge incredible friendships during their student years, the pressure to put academics on the back burner and put social events and partying first will always be there. Without telling your child what they should or shouldn’t do, have an open and honest conversation about the social pressures of varsity life. Ask them what they feel a healthy balance is between “work” and “play”, and encourage them to establish healthy boundaries from the get-go.

4. Reassure your child that you’ll always be there, supporting and cheering!

More than anything, your child needs to know that you’re there for them no matter what! Even though a big part of letting go means allowing your child to make mistakes on their own, your support and love in every situation will help them to stand up and try again. Encourage them to phone you when they feel overwhelmed and discouraged – it’s going to mean the world to them in this new season of their lives.

You might not be able to prepare your child for all the unknowns and challenges that await – but if your child knows that you’re always there for a chat or to be a shoulder to cry on, they’ll be more than okay to face the big wide world that is university.

It is so important to prioritise rest and relaxation as a student, since deadlines and social events can fill up your calendar really fast. This is why being able to leave the demands of student life behind on campus and head home to a space where you can unwind and relax really is such a plus! From taking a slow walks in the fresh air during golden hour to enjoying a cup of coffee as you look out over the beautiful mountains of Stellenbosch, off-campus accommodation can be more conducive to rest.

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