Tips for Parents
Parents send their children to college with many different emotions. At times you may be very happy and excited, while other times you might be feeling sad and lonely. These mixed emotions are normal. Your children are feeling similar things. One of the most important things you can do to help your children be successful is to practice good communication skills. Here are a few tips:
- Listen, listen, listen
- Talk without lecturing, dictating, judging or criticizing
- Open communication on regular basis
- Let your child know he/she does not have to protect you from his/her problems
- Agree to disagree
- Take a time-out to calm down and think before you speak
Stress and your College Student
Contrary to popular opinion, the college years are not always the best years of a student's life. There are indecisions, mistakes, self-consciousness, insecurities ... but also excitement, new relationships, good times, personal achievement and growth. The academic demands tend to peak around mid-terms and finals, and so does a student's stress level. Anytime, however, during the semester can prove to be anxiety-provoking. How can you support them during these periods of high stress? Here are 10 ways:
- Send care packages: food, phone cards, holiday decorations and personal items are always appreciated. Use your imagination!
- Send letters & emails and call them: Don't take it personally if they don't respond ... it takes a great deal of energy and time to be both academically and socially successful.
- Teach them how to do laundry: You might wonder how something so simple can cause so much stress, but just ask the student who washed whites with colors in hot water! Also, a short lesson on cooking is very helpful to older students who are living in residence facilities that have kitchens. You can even compile a notebook with some simple but favorite recipes for them to have on hand.
- Encourage involvement: they will be encouraged numerous times to get involved in a club or organization. It will help your student feel a sense of belonging and give him or her the opportunity to concentrate on something other than that stress level. It also adds balance to a life that is always weighted with papers, projects, classes and exams.
- Stay calm and know that they have learned much from you over the years: Your wisdom will help them get through the stressful times.
- Talk to them about the effects of alcohol and drugs, and brainstorm together effective coping strategies: (listening to music, working out, taking a walk) that they can use during those high-stress periods. Studies verify that children do listen to their parents, even when it doesn't seem that way.
- Encourage them to develop effective time management skills: to seek out campus resources to help them - either academically, spiritually, socially, physically, emotionally or vocationally.
- Teach them how to write a check and balance a checkbook. Also, how to deal with the constant onslaught of offers for credit cards: ... we've all had them. One credit card, with a $200 to 300 limit and a commitment to paying it off every month, might be a good idea to help them build up some credit, but only if they make that commitment. Also, help them to create a workable budget for the school year.
- Impress upon your son or daughter the importance of good hygiene while living in close quarters: Remind them to change their sheets more than once a semester! Roommates will appreciate this.
- Help them understand that things generally do seem better in the morning: In other words, encourage them to give things a little time and not panic! Problems or obstacles can't always be solved within a few hours or even a day. We often need the gift of time to make effective decisions about any given situation. This is good advice for our students ... and good advice for us as parents!
Here are a few resources that can be helpful for parents and students:
- College of the Overwhelmed (2004)
Richard Kadison & Theresa Foy Digeronimo
- Making the Most of College (2001)