College is a life-changing event for your child and the family at large, so don’t see it as a transition period for your child alone. Your child, for the first time, has full responsibility to make certain decisions in their life, from going to class early, getting good grades, meeting people and attending parties. However, there are still under your care, supervision and protection, even though they are far away. So how do you manage your kid without making it obvious?
1. Define Expectations
After having different conversations with your teen, clearly state what you expect from them when they leave for college. You may expect some things from them financially, like paying for pizza, coffee or gas to move around town. Let them know about the expenses you will handle, probably money for transport to come home during holidays or nothing at all. Ensure there is a financial agreement between you and them.
Academic excellence should also be part of your expectations. Whether it is about maintaining a particular grade or passing each class, it’s essential you set a kind of benchmark for them. Most times, student who do not do well academically are placed on probation by the school, and their scholarship, financial aid or grants could be suspended. Emphasize on the essence of performing well academically.
2. Structure and Discipline
Setting boundaries is a two-way thing. For some parents, this may be the first time their child will be away from home and out of their reach for a long time. Thus, their kids may be exposed to certain activities they are not familiar with. As a parent, you have to prepare them for the unexpected, and also reinforce healthy behaviors.
Likewise, you need to set boundaries for yourself. College is more than having a degree, it also has to do with shaping one’s identity. Thus, it gives room for some exploration or decision-making that’s totally beyond your control as their parent. It may not be easy, but as a parent, you have to learn to let go and trust that your kids will adhere or follow your instructions or expectations.
3. Setting Clear Goals
Most importantly, discussing the end goal with your kids before they leave for college sounds like a good idea. What’s your family’s perception of the ultimate college experience? Is it about maintaining a certain GPA or graduating within four years? Is it about getting a semester-long internship or studying abroad? Is it about playing a particular sports or joining a Greek organization? “Since you will be paying for some or all of their expenses in college, asking your teenagers to get involved in certain activities while in college is a reasonable request” says Dr. Sam Miller, a teen counseling provider.
Although the experience is theirs, you have a major role to play by providing support physically, emotionally, and financially. When your kids and you are college committed, it helps in reinforcing that idea and also give your teenagers the inspiration, awareness and security to take advantage of their college life/career.
4. Stay Positive
Preparing for college can be very stressful for most teenagers so it is going to be important that you help your child stay positive and learn how to overcome the stress in a healthy way. Sadly, many teens turn to smoking or alcohol as a way to combat this stress. If you want to ensure that your child does not turn to these vices, teach them the power of reading positive affirmations. These words have been shown to be quite effective in helping to keep an individual in a positive frame of mind.