Support for young adults as they fly the nest

The five Ps of a smooth transition to independence

Wednesday, March 20 2024

Leaving home to become an independent adult should be an exciting time for any young person but for some, worrying about how they will cope away from the family home can be traumatic. 

Vashnie Sithambaram, a clinical psychologist practising at Netcare Akeso Umhlanga, says that with proper planning and the help of supportive parents, this milestone can be accomplished with minimal anxiety.

Moving out of home is undeniably one of the most significant transitions in a young adult's life. It marks a pivotal moment of independence and self-discovery, offering boundless opportunities for personal growth and new experiences. While it can be daunting to venture into uncharted territories, it's also an exhilarating journey filled with endless possibilities.

“As you embark on this adventure, feeling excitement and apprehension is natural. However, with the right mindset and preparation, this transition can be transformed into a time of happiness and fulfilment. With that in mind, we would like to share some valuable advice to navigate this important milestone effortlessly, leaving behind any stress and uncertainty,” says Sithambaram. 

These five Ps can be a helpful framework to navigate this significant milestone:

  • Be Proactive in helping a young adult craft the best way to leave home.
  • Turn the logistics of the move into a family Project, involving the parents and young adults to help the process go smoothly.
  • Plan every detail as meticulously as you can.
  • Prepare the young adult physically and emotionally for independence.
  • Stay Positive about their ability to be self-sufficient. Remember, the more prepared you are for any challenges that could arise, the more confident and less fearful the young adult will be.

Sithambaram gives her top tips for families to consider as they navigate the anxiety around the looming separation and new challenges this life stage brings.

Preparing for independence: essential advice for young adults

  • Don’t rush to leave home. It’s a momentous decision, so plan for it well in advance.
  • Consider things like finances, accommodation, and what support is available to you.
  • Speak to others who have successfully navigated the challenges you may face. Learn from their experiences.
  • Ask yourself about the physical, financial, and emotional advantages or disadvantages of moving out and see how your answers align with your goals.
  • Acknowledge that stress, anxiety, panic, loneliness, depression or homesickness are all normal emotional responses to a change or adjustment period.
  • Not knowing how to run a new home, finding a job and being financially secure can be stressful. Even the most confident people have these same fears. Reach out to your support systems for help.

“It’s so important for the young adult to be aware of challenges they may face away from the safety net of a family home. Preparation is key to navigating these, and here are my top tips on how to cope emotionally,” says Sithambaram.

Embracing change: Tips for adjusting to life away from home

  • Leave home on good terms with family members who love and support you. Leaving on bad terms or after an argument can often make moving out more challenging.
  • Visit or phone home when you feel homesick. This could mean scheduling video calls every week until you find your feet.
  • Make a list of the concerns you have with possible ways to resolve them.
  • Be proactive about making friends. Other young people who may work with you or a supportive social group, especially if they are of the same age group, can ease loneliness and help with the transition to independence.
  • Develop a routine. Find new activities, like going to the gym or starting a hobby and explore your new environment to help you feel more comfortable and confident.
  • Make your home feel like home. Your family home is often based on your parent’s interests, and your new space is an opportunity to reflect your identity. Take the time to figure this out for yourself so you can create a space where you feel safe and comfortable.

Sithambaram points out that parents can help their adult child develop independence by accepting that it is natural for young people to leave home. “Don’t let your anxieties about this important step towards adulthood cloud your judgement in preparing your child for life outside the family home,” she stresses.

Tips for parents on how to help their child leave home with confidence

  • Set goals and timelines once the right age approaches. This gives the adult child time to plan and organise themselves financially with your assistance.
  • Help your child build a budget. Give them responsibilities like getting them to make their own doctor’s appointments and pay for some of the things they need themselves. This will build their confidence.
  • Prepare them for the reality of chores and household responsibilities. Teach them to cook and let them participate in the daily running of the home.
  • Change the dynamics. Give them the privacy and autonomy with the responsibility that comes with adulthood. Let them know you have confidence in them to be responsible adults.
  • Reassure them that the family home will always be there for them when they need support. 
  • When you find you are a new empty-nester, be kind to yourself. Realise that while you will miss your child, your newfound freedom presents an exciting phase in your life and can be very rewarding.


About Netcare Akeso
Netcare Akeso operates a network of private inpatient mental health facilities and is part of the Netcare Group. Netcare Akeso provides individual, integrated and family-oriented treatment in specialised inpatient treatment facilities, as well as certain outpatient services, for a range of psychiatric, psychological and substance use conditions. Please visit or contact [email protected] for further information.

In the event of a psychological crisis, call 0861 435 787, 24 hours a day for emergency support. Psychiatrist consultations can be made through Netcare appointmed™, online at or by calling 0861 555 565.

For media enquiries, contact MNA at the contact details listed below.

Issued by:  MNA on behalf of Netcare Akeso Umhlanga
For media enquiries contact: Martina Nicholson, Meggan Saville, Estene Lotriet-Vorster
or Clementine Forsthofer
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
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