Homesickness 101: Helping Your Child Cope With College

Your child left for college 3 weeks ago. You finally got “the call.” They’re homesick. As a parent, what do you do? Here are some ideas to help your kid cope with the plethora of emotions swimming through their head.

Helping Your Child Prepare Mentally

Before your child actually leaves for college, it’s helpful to get them prepared for their new day-to-day life. Of course, telling them about college isn’t really going to prepare them. You will have to show them what it’s like. How? By taking them down to the campus for a tour.

It gives them a feel for the size and scope of the world they’re about to enter. You could also try a “dry run” by setting up your home like a dorm room (at least, their bedroom).

Let them do their own laundry, make their own food, do their own shopping, and buy all their own things for a few weeks, or even months, leading up to school. Give them more and more space and even plan entire weekends when you won’t be at home.

It might actually seem scary for you, at first. But, this is what your child needs. If you can afford it, set your child up in a hotel or motel for a weekend to give them a feel for what it’s like to stay in a strange place.

Helping Set Up the Dorm Room

When your child leaves, help them set up their dorm room. You could shop Bed Bath & Beyond for personalized bedding to give them just a taste of home. Something that’s uniquely theirs. Or, you could take something that’s actually from home and get monogrammed bedding for them as a gift.

Most colleges naturally limit the amount of stuff that can be brought from home just because of the size of the dorm room.

So, things like toothpaste, combs, soap, a lock for their laptop, and clothing become important items for students. Obviously, they’re going to need school-related stuff as well.

Skype with Your Children

When it’s time to leave them at college, don’t fret. You can always Skype them on the weekends. In fact, setting up a routine where you call or Skype them can help with the homesickness, as it helps keep that “line” open to home. In a sense, they’re never really alone.

You’re only a video call away.

Some parents even give their kids cell phones and pay for the bill so that their children have easy access to them. Of course, this can backfire if the child starts downloading a bunch of apps or racks up a huge bill, but you can usually enforce parental controls or limit the amount of data usage on a plan using a prepaid service.

Check Up On Your Kids Periodically

You want to give them space, but you don’t want them to be lonely. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to “be there” for your child or children. It’s OK to check up on them once in a while. You could even make it explicit that you will visit them once a month or once every other month. If they live close enough to home, you could visit them once a week.

Abbie Savage is a Mom facing empty nest syndrome as she waves her youngest daughter off to college soon. She writes about family life and offers advice on a variety of parenting sites.


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