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Helping Kids Transition to College

Do you have a kid going off to college for the first time this year? Starting college is a major transition not just for kids, but for parents and caregivers as well. If your child will be living away from home, it can be an emotional experience for the whole family. Your teen might feel nervous or scared about living somewhere else on their own and starting a new chapter in their life. On the other hand, they might also feel excited for new experiences and to take another step into adulthood. Regardless, you'll want to help them prepare as much as possible before this next milestone in their life.

During the rest of summer break, take some time to check in on how they're feeling about starting college. Don't be surprised if their mood or feelings about going away to school changes each day. It's normal to have all kinds of emotions and thoughts about college, such as excitement, curiosity, fear, sadness, etc. Depending on what they're thinking about or what they've heard that day, they could have various answers about what they're feeling. Remind them that that they're not alone and that new experiences can bring about all of these emotions.

Sometimes teens are afraid to leave the familiarity they have in their home environment, especially if they're attending school far away. Reassure them that they can always contact you when they need help or someone to talk to and that even though they won't be living at home, they'll still have the support from their family. Hearing this can put them at ease.

Practicing mindfulness can also relieve any tension your child might have about going to college and be more in tune with their emotions. Nervousness often comes from a place of uncertainty. For an example, your child might have fears that they won't make many new friends in college, they won't be able to keep up with their courses, or they may not be able to decide on their major. One of the best ways to deal with these thoughts and fears is to learn how to reframe them and develop a positive mindset. Remind your child of all of their accomplishments, how they've overcome challenges in the past, or how much they have grown. Encourage them to write down affirmations that they can read out loud every day. Over time, this can lead to a more positive outlook about college.

Helping your child develop good self-care habits is beneficial as well and something that will help them while they're in school. Many teens don't get enough sleep and will sacrifice sleep to keep up with their educational demands and social life. It's important to remind them that sleep is crucial to their overall health, their ability to concentrate, and their school performance. Encourage them to eat a well-balanced and nutritious diet, get plenty of exercise, and take breaks from social media and screen devices. If they develop these habits before the school year starts, they are more likely to stick with them when they attend college.

Prior to the start of your teen's first semester, have a conversation with them about important life skills to take with them to school. Your teen is making a transition to adulthood and are going to learn how to become more independent. Talk to them about managing their schedules and time, how to make responsible decisions, and how to take care of their health including making and keeping up with doctor appointments. Review any medication management with them if they use any medicine.

To make sure that your child is up to date with their checkups and immunizations for school, contact our office.

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