If your child has gone off to college for the first time, separation anxiety is common for both parents and the children. If your child is having difficulty dealing with feelings for homesickness, there are many things that can be done to help.
Any life-altering experience, even a positive one like college, can lead to a flood of new emotions. One of the most common among college students is homesickness or loneliness. If your child continues to be homesick after the first week or two away at college, these tips may help reduce their homesickness and improve their college experience.
Let them know it’s natural
Talk with your child and acknowledge that homesickness is common and natural. One reason a child may be having a hard time is that he or she may feel weak and vulnerable. Let your child know you are there to help and these feelings are perfectly natural.
Keep phone contact
Purchase a cell phone or phone card for your child so that they can keep in touch with friends and family. Though you want them to make new friends at college, allow them to have the opportunity to call home, if necessary.
Send a care package
When your child first goes off to school, send a care package a couple times a month with food, toiletries, small gifts and reminders of home. Nothing says love like a batch of homemade cookies or photos from back home.
Encourage students to meet new people
Whether through study groups, volunteer organizations, church meetings, intramural sports or other extra curricular activities, if your college student can meet new friends with common interests, their transition will go a lot more smoothly.
Utilize a web cam
Oftentimes the telephone and email isn’t enough when children are away from home for the first time. Web cams are inexpensive easy to set up and a great way to communicate verbally and visually. You can purchase web cams at your local electronics store or online at various retailers.
Set up an online friends/family chat
It’s easy to set up an online chat group where your child can talk to friends and family. Skype is a free program that you can download on to your computer that allows you to set up an ongoing, private chat room to keep in touch.
Visit as often as possible
During your child’s first semester or year away at college, visit their campus as often as possible, if your child wants you to do so. If you are financially able, pay for siblings or close friends to visit your child as well.
Use student resources
Most colleges have resident assistants, counselors, tutors and advisors that are willing and able to help your child make the transition. These people will be able to help your child cope with feelings of homesickness and encourage them to become involved in student activities.
Let them cry
Homesickness and loneliness are not feelings to be ashamed of. Everyone goes through these types of emotions at first when leaving home. Encourage your child to cry and release these feelings in a natural and healthy way.
Get professional help
If your child suffers from feelings of homesickness longer than a month or two, there may be additional underlying causes. Set up a time for them to meet with a psychologist or counselor to discuss their feelings and get them back on the road to happy, successful college experience.