Going to college is a rite of passage into adulthood and a major accomplishment. Of course, this also means that your child will no longer be under your watchful eye. You won’t be there to make sure they complete their work on time or put on actual clothes before heading to class.
It’s common for parents to worry about sending their children off to college, but this stress is heightened for parents of teens with mental health issues. You can’t be there to be their conscience, but there is a lot to do to prepare them for independence. Continue reading to get some tips on how to send your troubled teen off to college on the right foot.
Encourage your child to attend a school near home.
Many students go across the country to attend school — and possibly to get away from home — but your student’s situation is unique. It’s best for them to attend a college that’s within a short drive of home. Even if your child chooses to live on campus, you’ll both be more comfortable knowing that you can be there quickly if the need arises.
Make sure your child continues their therapy.
When your child goes off to school, you’ll no longer be the guardian of their mental health, but you can still be a participant in it. The first thing you should do before your child heads off into the real world is to find a therapist near their college campus.
It’s vital to your child’s success and well-being that they continue to meet with a therapist to work through their mental health problems. Attending college will be a new experience for him, but therapy will provide some sense of familiarity. Many new challenges await, but meeting with a therapist will help your student to navigate the pressures of college life.
Get your student the extra support he needs.
A student with mental health issues may need additional support to make the most of their college experience. Your child may be feeling their independence, but you should still make sure they get the extra support they’ll need for success.
Whether it be tutors, a time management coach, or a mentor, make sure your child seeks out the help they’ll require in their educational journey. You may even have to tackle that task yourself. Talk it over with your college student so they’ll understand that you’re trying to make sure they have the proper support system and not a babysitter. Even if he resents you for it now, he’ll appreciate what you’ve done when he’s the proud holder of a college degree.
Give your child extra tools to help him succeed academically.
Of course, the main goal of your child going to college is to further his education, so provide him with all the tools he’ll need to excel. You don’t want him to feel overwhelmed by his workload.
There are a lot of programs that are geared toward helping students excel in the classroom. There’s an online word counter that can help with writing assignments. There are electronic day planners to help your student keep track of their classes and assignments. There is also a myriad of apps designed to help college students study. Familiarize your student with all the apps he can use to enhance his scholastic performance.
Recognize your new role in your child’s life.
The best thing you can do for your student’s confidence is to trust him to do the right thing. You’ll always be his parent, but the role of a parent changes as their children age.
If your student makes a mistake, you should listen to him rather than lecture him. When you talk to him, don’t press for details that he isn’t comfortable giving — as difficult as it may be, you have to take what you can.
The most important thing you can do is remain supportive. There will be ups and downs, but your child will always see you as a steadying anchor in their life. Once you launch your child into the real world, he’ll be on his own. But the guidance you provided for the first 18 years of his life will not fail him.