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Tension is mounting among close to 800 000 young people who wrote matric in 2018 as the release of the results approaches.

Clinical Psychologist Charity Mkome says it is more stressful for children to write matric now, than it was for their parents. She offers advice on how expectations and the mounting tension can be managed.

Since the announcement a week ago of the day when matric results will be released, tension and anxiety has been mounting for the class of 2018 and their families.

Clinical psychologist Charity Mkome, who works with the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), says it has become more difficult to be accepted for the tertiary course of your choice. This and the expectations of parents in some cases, cause matrics to be more stressful for children nowadays.

Mkome says matrics and their families should realise that the results has already been determined. It is only to be announced. She says parents can play a pivotal role in managing the stress their children experience.

“Remind the school leavers; remind the matriculants that this is only the beginning. That in essence is not the end of your schooling. It might be the end of your schooling career in a very formal way, but it’s the beginning of stepping into adulthood, into young adulthood as the beginning of the rest of their lives. And to see the bigger picture as opposed to isolate just the moment, the day of receiving your results.”

Durban teacher Irene Govender has taught hundreds of matrics over the years. But she says it was only in 2018 during her son Byron’s matric year that she realised how difficult it has become to secure a place at university.

Byron – one of the country’s top young swimmers – wants to study health sciences.

Irene Govender says universities require matrics to attain a certain number of points, according to their own formula, instead of a university exemption matric mark only.

“The minimum may be 42 points, but they start the intake at 42. So, generally learners are getting 44 points, 45 points and those are the learners who are taken first. And of course, the quota applies as well. So, previously disadvantaged learners will be given preference in this regards, with regards to acceptance into the faculty.”

Irene Govender says they had to scale down Byron’s swimming activities by August in order for him to improve his marks. She says parental support is crucial,whether it be playing bank for extra lessons, providing transport, the right diet during exams, or just to calm the nerves.

Byron says he started to feel anxious since the date of the release was announced a week ago. He says it is a long time to wait since matrics wrote their last subject on the 26th of November.

“As you finish finals at 12 o’clock that time we were all, I think most of us, were just excited because we have finished. Some, like myself, were just tired. It’s over and now we can rest and catch up on all the sleep we missed. And at first, there was no issue. You felt good because you know you had nothing to worry about. There is no more getting up 3 o’clock in the morning to study, staying up late to study. There was no constantly trying to cram yourself or stretch yourself out. Now, there is nothing to stress about. But I think as you get closer to the time that’s when the stress starts to eat one up.”

This is what other matrics did over the past month to put the exams out of their mind.

“Straight after the exams I had my cousins coming over and I went for a little holiday. So, that allowed me to take the results out of my mind. But now that I’m back home and there’s only a few more days remaining. It’s one of the things that I’m constantly thinking about,” one matric explained.

“Being in nature definitely helps for me personally, because it’s what I’ve grown up with; what I’ve grown accustomed to. Also, it’s a time that I can sit and reflect and think about serious issues that are important to me, like current issues and then personal issues,” adds another one.

Mkome says after the release of the results parents should take note of changes in their children’s mood or behaviour that lasts for longer than two weeks.

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