Leaving for College? Prepare Your Teen for Life Away from Home
It’s Jared’s 18th birthday. Soon he’ll be leaving home. Jared has been looking forward to being out on his own for a long time, but now that it’s so close, he’s feeling a little frightened. His mother, Susanna, seems scared too. She brings him checklists, and writes him small reminders every day. They’re both thinking the same thing: what if Jared’s not ready?
The transition from high school to college is often so scary because it can feel like all the years you spent parenting your teen are being put to the test. Is your teen ready? Did you forget anything? What if it doesn’t go well?
Despite the increasing pressure placed on your teen—and by proxy, on you—to have an impressive resume, to get into the “best” school, and to eventually land the perfect job, preparing your teen for life away from home is less about awards and milestones, and more about the ability to navigate life’s inevitable challenges. As a parent, this news can be somewhat of a relief: You can’t create a perfect life plan for your child, but you can help guide them through important lessons and life experiences.
So what can you help your child learn that will be most meaningful in the long run?
Emotional skills – As your teen leaves home, it will be important for him to be able to identify his emotions and to manage them. Patience, problem-solving, and self-control will help him feel ready when problems arise, and you’re not immediately available to help him. Emotional maturity also means your teen will be more self-motivated, and less dependent on peer approval.
Working collaboratively with your teen as he navigates school and the teenage years can help him become more in control of his thoughts and feelings. As he gets older, bring him into your decision-making process. It can help to allow your child to experience things first-hand, while remaining available for guidance and support.
Practical skills –Even if your teen is emotionally ready for college, she can still become overwhelmed or stressed-out if she doesn’t feel like she can do her laundry or manage her workload. Practical skills also include knowing how to make a doctor’s appointment, and how to take care of herself physically, which will go a long way to prepare your teen for life away from home.
Finding small moments to allow your teen to take the reins when it comes to her own care can go a long way in preparing her for adulthood. By helping her take steps toward independence, she’ll have the confidence to act on her own when she most needs it.
Relationship skills – Much of the learning that happens in college isn’t strictly academic; your child will still be navigating the sometimes tricky terrain of being a good collaborator, friend, and partner. If your teen has already begun building his social skills, and can carry on meaningful conversations, some of the pressure of leaving home for the first time will be alleviated.
Communicating clearly with your teenager will help him learn firsthand how to best talk and work with others. Encourage him to branch out and make new relationships while he’s at home. Be available to him when he’s going through social challenges. Invest him with confidence in his own ability to connect with others. Learn more about how you can help your suffering teen during a breakup.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of preparing your child for life away from home is preparing yourself for the same. It can be easy to allow your protective instincts to make you over-protective. It can also be easy to try and encourage independence by cutting the cord too soon. You are the person best qualified to help your teen. Allowing her space to get to know herself, while supporting and encouraging her to grow, can help your relationship flourish even after she’s moved away from home.
Transitions can be a difficult time for both you and your teen. You deserve some attention too! Our therapists in Houston, Tx can help you cope with transition and prepare for an empty nest.
To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online. We look forward to help you!
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