Be there for kids who fail matric

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depression lib INDEPENDENT MEDIA The writers say a complex strategy needs to be developed as many factors that lead to suicide are not psychiatric or medical. File photo: Thys Dullaart

 Durban - Failing matric does not mean all educational avenues have been exhausted – there are other options, and parents should provide adequate support to their children rather than blame them.

This was the message from psychologists as matric pupils and their parents prepared themselves for the results of the National Senior Certificate exams.

This year, 576 490 full-time pupils sat for the matric exams and 130 646 part-time pupils sat nationally.

Naazia Ismail, a senior counsellor at the SA Depression and Anxiety Support Group, said it was important for parents to comfort their children if they had underperformed. “Failing matric is hard, it has dire consequences financially and emotionally for the parent and the child.

“Sometimes parents see their children’s failure as a reflection on themselves, but the most important thing is that they intervene and make sure they provide adequate support to the child.”

Ismail said if matric pupils underperformed and could not gain entry to universities, they should consider other options, like rewriting their exams or having them remarked. They should also not be shy to seek out jobs, she said.

“Parents must be part of the change,” said Ismail. “Judging the child and reminding them of their failure does not help; parents must be part of the transition.”

Rakhi Beekrum, a counselling psychologist at eThekwini Hospital and Heart Centre, said that while matric was a stepping stone, it was not the final determinant of success.

“It’s what you do from this point forward that counts. See it as a learning curve. If you feel that your marks are incorrect, opt for remarking. Speak to someone about how you feel,” she said.

“If you feel that your friends and family are not able to help… consider speaking to a psychologist or registered counsellor,” she said.

Dr Naseema Vawda, head of psychology at King Edward VIII Hospital, said parents should have communicated with teachers to ensure that there were no major surprises when the results were released.

“Some parents put high expectations that cannot be met by the child.

“If they aren’t doing well, find out why they aren’t doing well, because it could be due to many factors such as bullying, and poor teaching personnel.”

Parents needed to monitor their children, she said.

If they were not eating or sleeping, or were keeping to themselves, it could be a sign of depression.

Vawda said they would probably not say much, but might take to Twitter and Facebook. She urged friends of pupils to alert parents if there was an obvious behavioural change or unhappy messages posted on social networks.

Clinical psychologist Professor Lawrence Schlebusch, author of the book Suicidal Behaviour in South Africa, said pupils who failed or had not achieved their goals often made the mistake of comparing themselves to their successful peers which, he said, “reinforced their low self-esteem”.

“It’s not easy for parents, but they must be supportive and understanding of the situation,” he said, adding that they should keep tabs on what their children were discussing on social networks.

 

Clinical psychologist Gugu Nyawose confirmed that failing matric could be an enormous emotional burden for the pupil.

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