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Back To School, Off To College

These lazy, hazy days of summer won’t last forever, and they are an ideal time to contemplate a better back-to-school plan for your teen. Think back to last fall. Chances are that there were a few frenetic mornings as you and your teenager both adjusted to moving from summer relaxation to renewed stricter routines. We have a few ideas for you to ease the transition this year, reduce the stress, and enjoy this exciting time of fresh starts and possibilities.

Review Good Habits

By now, you have probably instilled many good habits into your young adult, such as:

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  • Completing homework the night before and having it safely ensconced in a backpack awaiting morning departure.
  • Packing a healthy lunch the night before, leaving nothing more to do in the morning except add a cold pack from the freezer and healthy drinks.
  • Planning the next day’s outfit the night before.
  • Setting the alarm to allow enough morning time to get ready in a relaxed, stress-free manner.

You can review some other good routines and habits in our article, “Taking the Crazy Out of Back to School.”

Even though these habits may already have been developed in your older child, it helps to review them prior to the start of school. “Repetition,” as Anthony Robbins said, “is the mother of all skill.” And good organizational habits instilled in your child will flow into other areas of their life as well.

When Your Teen Is Still Living at Home

Teens, as many parents will confirm, can be a tad uncommunicative. Add to the mix the varying comings and goings of family members at all different times, and you have a recipe for disaster. Missed appointments, late departures, forgotten permission slips: these can all add up to a stressful year. This schoolyear, nip these potential tension-packed episodes in the bud. Set up a “Communications Central” board where everything necessary for smooth logistics is laid out. This could be a blackboard, a whiteboard, or simply a large calendar located where it’s hard to miss. Use it to post weekly schedules, leave a static morning and night-before “To Do” list, and add any urgent items that come up. If you have more than one child, assign a color for each of them. This way everyone knows what they need to do and when: less hassle equals less stress! Add cartoons, photos, and inspirational quotes to make it fun and keep it fresh. Colored chalk and pens add to the fun.

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If Your Teen Is Going Away to College

If you have a kid leaving for college soon, it is an especially exciting time but one fraught with worries too . . . on both sides. You might be worried about bad influences such as drugs, excessive partying, bad health choices, and insufficient time devoted to studies.

Your teen’s anxieties, on the other hand, likely veer to the unknown and how to handle the multitude of changes they will face, including:

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  • Will I like my roommate? Will I be lonely?
  • Will I find new friends with whom I can fit?
  • Will I be able to keep up with heavy reading and challenging assignments?
  • How can I be perceived as “cool” by the new crowd?
  • Will my money run out?
  • Will I get homesick?

Help allay these anxieties by having a conversation about them with your teen. A good time might be after a shopping trip to buy her some cool clothes to help her feel right at home on campus. Stop by a café and have a down-to-earth chat about this new chapter in her life. You might want to relay some of your own anxieties and challenges when you went off to college or faced some other life transition. This little talk will give you some ideas of what you can do to help make it a great experience for all concerned.

Gift Ideas to Help Your College-Bound Kid

College kids love gifts and care packages. Here are some ideas of material things you can give to help your child adjust and thrive in college.

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  • Is she sharing a dorm room? If so, privacy could be an concerning issue. Perhaps you could provide your child with a safe for her important documents, cash, and mementos.
  • If homesickness is a concern, you could create a lovely digital collage of family photos.
  • A compact refrigerator would be a welcome gift if the dorm does not come equipped with one. This can also make it easier for her to be health-conscious while she’s away from home, easing one of your parental concerns.
  • Small spaces can invite chaos. Organizational items from a space-savers store (online or bricks and mortar) could be just the ticket.
  • Consider security issues. Does your kid’s phone have one of those apps that help in locating a lost or stolen phone?
  • Tablets, Kindles, or laptops are other thoughtful gifts that your young adult will thank you for.

Don’t forget, material things aren’t all your teen will need from you during this time of transition. Make yourself available by checking in. Text and call periodically to touch base and open up the lines of communication for anything with which your child might need your help.

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