Tips for Parents
Helping Students Deal with Homesickness
As you work through the transition of having your student in college, keep in mind that your student is transitioning too. For some students, part of that transition is homesickness. When the initial excitement and newness of the new year wears off, some students commonly long for home and the familiarity of their old routine. You can help your student cope with these feelings by offering him the following suggestions:
- Acknowledge your feelings and worries. Once you've identified the feelings, it can be easier to address them.
- Take advantage of the resources available on campus. There are so many people available to help! Resident assistants, counselors and others are prepared to help students who are homesick or lonely. Don't be afraid to tap into them ... you won't be the first.
- Get involved. If you sit and think about what you are missing at home, you are also missing what you could be doing on campus. This is a lose-lose situation! Trying new things and meeting new people is one of the best ways to combat loneliness.
- Call home or communicate in other ways with those who matter to you. Although it's important for you to develop some independence, staying connected is a great way to feel supported as you grow during your collegiate journey.
When Your Student Needs Something More
How do you know if your student is experiencing a normal bout of homesickness or if she is really struggling in a way that might require some additional support? Here are some signs that might signal that your student is severely homesick:
- He finds reasons to call. If your student starts contacting you much more often than normal, it could mean that he is looking for reasons to talk to you.
- She's not getting involved. If you aren't hearing your student talk about co-curricular activities or she keeps giving excuses as to why she isn't getting involved, she could be holing up in her room and not connecting with her peers.
- He's becoming more and more dependent. Is your student asking you to handle simple tasks that he normally handles on his own or should be handling on his own now that he is in college? It's one thing for a student to call for some advice or to talk through some possibilities, but it's another for a student to call home to ask someone to handle something he should handle.
- She keeps getting sick. Sometimes, homesickness can manifest itself in physical symptoms such as headaches, insomnia, nausea or fatigue. If your student is experiencing these symptoms with regularity, it could mean more than poor habits.
- He is getting poor grades. Severe homesickness can make it really difficult for a student to concentrate on his schoolwork. Talk with your student about his grades, what he is learning in his classes and what he is enjoying about his academic pursuits.
If you believe your student is severely homesick, encourage him to visit the campus counseling center. A professional can help him work through his feelings and get him on the right track.
Most of all, you can help your student by reassuring him that by accepting his life in college, he's not giving up his life at home. He can have both ... it just looks different. Send him some things to remind him of home, make sure he knows you are thinking about him and help him feel confident about the months ahead.
Some information adapted from Helium.com.
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