Is My Kid Ready?
This is probably the most common question popping into the minds of parents right now as the school year ends and many kids will soon be leaving home-base to enter their first year of college. College means a new developmental milestone, a chapter in a child’s life where they will be faced with obstacles and challenges on an academic level but also a social and emotional level as well.
The same fears and questions you have for your child moving onto college may be the same exact worries your child is having. It is important to have numerous discussions over time with your child about these stressors and facilitate an open conversation about how these stressors can be handled. The time is now to assess and equip your child with skills and tools to handle difficult social and emotional circumstances and issues. When a child is not able to successfully navigate through the social and emotional aspects of school, there is a higher risk of academic failure and mental decline.
How do I prepare my child for these stressors? The answer is: building resiliency.
- Mapping out a support system: Have your child discuss and even write down a list of names of people they trust who they can call on when things get “sticky.” Children need to be reminded that whatever is faced their way, they have others in their family, social network, and community to lean on. Discussing your child’s support system will provide them with a sense of comfort that there is a net in place when they “feel themselves falling.” Also, take time with your child to look at clubs, groups, and the counseling facility on campus to prepare your child for additional supports.
- “Go Easy on Yourself:” College can be a major adjustment to the normal routine and life of living at home. A great deal of anxiety can come up due to so many changes. Their emotions might already be all over the map because of hormones and physical change and then having to make an adjustment to a new life in college may make emotions feel even more extreme. Discuss and normalize this “rollercoaster” experience and let your child know that they can ease up on themselves saying something like “give yourself time to adjust.”
- Find a Comfortable, Stress-Free Spot: Help identify with your child what may be a good spot for to go to when there are days or periods of high stress. This can be something like going to a coffee shop off campus, sitting in the park listening to music, or creating a cozy spot in his/her dorm to relax. Brainstorm together as to what may be a good point of “refuge” from the stressors of school and social life.
- Stick To The Program. Explain to your child how they can benefit from having a routine. Your child will be faced with all types of new things but have them remember that routine can provide a sense of comfort such as making a to-do list at the beginning of the day, going out to lunch, or have a nightly phone call with a friend.
- Attend to All Parts of Yourself: With mom and dad not around, children will need to make sure to attend to all areas of their life including physically, mentally and spiritually. Emphasize how important sleep is to their overall physical and mental health.
- Focus on Strengths: Spend time talking about the successes and achievements your child has accomplished throughout the years. Remind them that the strengths they possess are carried over with them to this new chapter in their lives. Highlight the importance of utilizing these strengths while they are in college. Strengths can range from athletics, artistic passions, communication skills with others, or any other skills that enhance their wellbeing.
Want more about Preparing your Child and Resilience? Check out
Preparing Your Child for College