Advice Column, Education, Parenting, Tween & Teen


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At the best of times matric exams throw the entire household into chaos.  As the parent of a 2020 matric student, you’d be forgiven for asking: Why me? Why this year?!  Matric is such an important rite of passage for both teens and their parents, and the global pandemic has played havoc with this special year in your child’s life.  It can be incredibly hard to hold the space for your matric’s anxieties, disappointments and stresses, while dealing with your own fears, expectations and emotions about this tumultuous time.

The good news is that parents are actually far from helpless bystanders, and research shows that there is a lot that parents can do to provide much-needed support that will help your teen manage the stresses of writing matric in 2020.  “Helping your child be emotionally, physically and mentally prepared is the greatest thing that you can do in this exceptional year,” says Counselling Psychologist, Lauren Martin who is on the panel at an upcoming SACAP (the South African College of Applied Psychology) webinar, Parents’ Guide to Matric Support.  “Understanding the impact of emotional well-being on their performance and coming up with practical ways to guide them through their studies and exam time will help you, your matric student, and the whole family navigate the experience with far less stress and chaos, and with better outcomes.”

Joining Lauren Martin on the webinar panel is Esmarie Cilliers, a registered Counsellor in private practice with a special interest in Developmental Psychology and Personal Growth.  She says, “Studying for success is not a question of luck or talent alone. Researchers agree that students who have a strategy or a plan for how they are going to study, achieve the best outcomes. Students who follow a plan and scientific methods learn more easily, retain information for longer periods of time, and save themselves hours of study time which enables them to have more balance in their lives.”

One of the key aspects of how matrics and their parents approach the matric exams rests in their attitudes and perspectives on the challenges, which have been amplified by all the disruptions of the pandemic.  On the one hand, it has served up anxieties and disappointments, and on the other it has provided an extraordinary life experience where the matric student can embrace their growing independence and tap into their inner characteristics such as resilience and courage.  There is the choice to view this incredibly challenging time as an opportunity to improve self-discipline, time management and study skills.  Drawing on our own inner attributes can help us to harness the motivation, will power, creativity and coping skills that will unlock the 2020 matric cohorts’ potential and empower them to succeed. 

Martin adds, “I would encourage every matric student and their parents to practice flexibility in planning and thinking about the future – especially this year, with all the additional stressors and challenges matric students have encountered. Every matric student is wondering about the next steps for them, whether that’s finding work, studying further or volunteering to gain experience. Rigid thinking around believing there is only one set way to achieve your goals exacerbates anxiety and pressure and often leaves students depressed and demobilized when they aren’t able to follow this specific, rigid plan.   Rather, mapping out various pathways to your goal leaves students with options and possibilities, regardless of matric examination results.  Other options come in to perspective such as, upgrading matric results; attaining a higher certificate prior to a degree programme; volunteering prior to work applications; considering trade qualifications or entrepreneurship opportunities.  The mapping of possible routes to a fulfilling future is really endless, and matrics, and their parents, need to be reminded of the many possibilities they have.”

With a broader perspective, parents can also help in promoting and supporting practical, daily ways of taking physical, mental and emotional care of oneself.  Sufficient sleep, supportive nutrition and being physically active every day too often fall by the wayside when study pressures mount.  Yet, these are the very activities that support emotional well-being and optimal intellectual performance.

To find out more about how easy it can be for your child to get physically, mentally and emotionally in shape for the exams, parents can tune into SACAP’s free webinar Parents’ Guide to Matric Support on Saturday, 26 September at 10:00 am.  There will be two presentations by the experts focused on the importance of emotional well-being and planning for matric.  There will also be a Q&A session so that you can address any personal challenges in a supportive and caring environment.

Join SACAP’s Parents’ Guide to Matric Support session on how to help your matric take control of exams with less stress. Join the Zoom webinar on Saturday, 26 September at 10:00 – 11:00. Visit to RSVP and save your seat for the Parents’ Guide to Matric Support webinar.

For any matriculant who is interested in the field of psychology, counselling, Human Resource Management or Business Management, SACAP offers a wide range of qualifications, including Higher Certificate, Advances Certificate, BAppSocSci (Majoring in Psychology and Counselling), BAppSocSci (Majoring in Psychology and Human Resource Management), BappSocSci (Majoring in Psychology and Business Managemet), BPsych, and a one-of-a-kind approach to learning: academic rigour and applied skills. Graduating confident skilled practitioners is key, which is why SACAP combines an academically rigorous curriculum with a strong emphasis on the ability to apply knowledge through the training of relevant skills. Registration for 2021 Term One, is now open and class space is limited. For further information, visit:

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