HARTFORD -- Transitioning to college is major change for your teenager and entire family. The departure can bring up feelings of concern for parents and children. This time is even more difficult for children that have history of psychological difficulties such as trauma, separation anxiety, learning difficulties. Below are guidelines to help families prepare for the transition to college
Dr. Judith Zackson is a clinical psychologist with over 12 years of experience. She joined FOX 61 Good Day Connecticut to talk about that transition.
1) COMMUNICATION: Talk openly and invite questions. Create an environment where they do not feel judged and can talk openly about anything. Encourage them to talk openly about their feelings leaving home.
2) INDEPENDENCE: Act as a Consultant and encourage independence and self-reliance while reassuring your child you are always available. Allow them the space to make decisions and support their problems solving abilities. Strike a healthy balance: Stay involved but don’t be intrusive
3) GOALS AND EXPECTATIONS: Set clear expectations and goals together with your child: safety precautions, goals about date of graduation, grade point average, part time work, money management, laundry, phone check ins, expectations about drinking. If you set it together they will feel intrinsically motivated to achieve those goals
4) SOCIAL CHALLENGES: Help your child anticipate social changes and negotiation life with a roommate. Educate your child about making friends, social activities and sex and drugs.
5) DEALING WITH MISTAKES: College is a practice for life and time of inevitable mistakes. Teach the value of mistakes: help them learn and understand the cause of the mistake and revaluate their choices in the future. Let them solve their mistakes as its part of their growing process,
6) FRESHMEN 15: Food can be a great source of comfort: talk to your child about healthy food choices and not skipping meals. On the Flip side some children restrict food binge and purge and exercise excessively as a way to cope. If you see your child is exhibiting symptoms: Do not focus on calories and fat rather focus on healthy life style. Ask them: “what is really going on?” Talk to them about difficulties they may be experiencing. Parents can also reach out to campus counseling centers or mental health professionals.
7) MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES: If you child has a vulnerability towards anxiety depression or learning disability plan ahead with your child to ensure they have proper support in college. Normalize feeling stressed and overwhelmed and emphasize support from family and campus mental health services
8) SIGNS YOUR CHILD NEEDS HELP: It is important to be aware of signs of distress: prolonged sadness, tearfulness and excessive irritability, social isolation, feeling of hopelessness, skipping class and falling behind. Talk to your child about your concerns and seek out mental health services.