How to help your son or daughter build confidence before university

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Category: Children Education, Parenting Tips

The move from school to university is perhaps the biggest step between teenage years and adulthood. The idea of moving away from home and into an independent lifestyle can be daunting; so much so that many teens don’t manage to see their degree through to the end. So what can parents do to help their son or daughter feel more prepared for things to come?

By following our advice, you may be able to help your teenager feel more confident about making the leap from home comforts to university study.

Encourage them to help around the house

If a child has never had any responsibility, then chances are university is going to be an overwhelming experience. Suddenly having to wash their own clothes, take out their own bins and tidy their own home can be too much for children who have always had their domestic duties done for them, so get them started as early as possible. Simply knowing how to use a washing machine can help teenagers feel more prepared for independence.

Let them make mistakes

When you enter any new situation, there is inevitably a teething period. This means that no matter how hard your teen tries when they get to university, at some point something is going to go wrong. This might be a bad mark on an essay or making a fool of themselves in front of friends. Either way, now is the time to teach them that making a mistake is not the end of the world. The important thing is that they always learn from those setbacks and become stronger as a result.

Challenge them

Although it’s okay to make mistakes, this doesn’t mean you should let your teen get away with everything. Once they go to university, they have only themselves to answer to, so you need to make sure they’re responsible enough to still respect the rules. Encourage them to curb their bad habits and consider others now, before they encounter peers who may be annoyed, upset or offended by their behaviour.

Teach them basic domestic skills

As well as cleaning and tidying, your teen should also feel confident in completing daily domestic duties like cooking. This is arguably the most important skill they’ll need when they go to university, otherwise they may fall back on a diet of takeaways, pot noodles and endless amounts of pasta. Spend some time teaching them how to cook a few key dishes which are relatively simple but still nutritious and delicious. You could even put a little cookbook together for them which is catered to their tastes.

This may seem like a relatively small thing, but consider the importance of nutrition to both physical and mental wellbeing. Giving them five simple meals could enhance their attention span, boost their mood and help avoid weight gain resulting in greater self confidence.

Put them in charge

Responsibility is key to surviving university, so make sure to give your teen plenty of it. A good way to do this is to put them in charge of things every once in a while. Ask them what they want to do today; give them the task of making dinner; ask for their advice on your own insecurities regarding work.

Encourage them to express themselves (and listen to them)

Being a teenager means having more feelings than you can accurately express. Hormones, anxiety and insecurity are all rife during this time, and this is only heightened by the looming stress of moving away from home and starting university. Your teen is going to be feeling a lot of things right now, so take some time to ask them about it and encourage them to say how they are feeling. Even talking about it will help them feel better.

Consider a summer school

A summer school is a great way to get your child prepared for both the academic and social aspects of university. There are now a number of summer schools available around the country that are designed to help your teen make friends and get ahead from the very beginning, meaning they won’t feel quite so nervous when moving day arrives.

For more information on one of the best summer schools in the UK, visit