The journey away from home and off to college is just that, a journey. It's an excursion, a trip, a life altering experience that will be positive, negative, and a mixture of both. Within that mixture will be many feelings, one of which might be homesickness or loneliness. For most college students, this feeling only lasts a couple of weeks; however, in extreme cases it lasts much longer. Taking steps to reduce the affects of homesickness can improve your child's college experience. Read this article for tips to help your student cope with and reduce homesickness.
According to the dictionary, homesickness is a longing for home while away from it. In the world of psychology this is known as "separation anxiety". So, feeling homesick or lonely is an emotional and psychological state. While it is not uncommon, helping your college student handle the anxiety of leaving their support system will further their success in school. The first step in solving any problem is to admit that there is one - begin by having your student admit if they are homesick or lonely and let them know that it's natural.
While it might not be easy, parents whose college students are having with issues separation anxiety should not call their children all the time, which reminds them that they're away and not at home. Also, parents should be there for the students and talk to them when they call, but don't keep saying they miss them and that they wish they were there, because that would make the students more homesick. Instead, remind them that what they're doing at college is great, and that they're going to have fun and they'll see them on the holidays.
Follow these suggestions to help them reduce their anxiety with being away from home:
Help your child pick three goals or objectives they'd like to accomplish in the first month and make them very specific. Maybe they can meet a friend or a person they would like to date. And find one activity that they would like to be involved in. Pick three doable goals, like, going to the library or setting an exercise routine. Then, these things can help make something that seems unmanageable (like leaving for college) to be acceptable.
Encourage them to try one new thing each day and do one familiar thing each day. Try a new food, but call grandma or throw a Frisbee around. That way they're trying new things and adjusting to life, but still having the familiarity that they need to be comfortable.
Have them take 5 minutes a day for quiet, alone reflection time.
It's also a good idea to have a phone system figured out ahead of time. Sometimes kids want to know when they can reach the parents. A regular schedule phone call is not necessary but a time when each party is reachable can make life easier. Buy them a phone card and it will be even easier for them to call whoever they feel they need to connect with.
Have them talk about their feelings with someone, maybe even a Resident Assistant or Advisor, or you!
Encourage them to take pictures or home videos of family and friends with them to school; or bring other familiar items that might provide a sense of continuity to a new environment.
Have them email their friends (and family) often and tell them to do the same
Don't allow them to mask their feelings with food, alcohol, TV, or denial
Take action, have them familiarize themselves with their surroundings by walking around campus