29 July 2015
You dropped her off at preschool, put her on the bus for the first day of kindergarten, then came middle school and high school. Now it’s time to drop her off at college where she’ll be living on her own for the first time. Don’t panic! Help is on the way.
Here are 6 top tips to help you prepare your son or daughter for college
Here at Westchester Health Pediatrics, year after year we see patients whom we took care of as infants head off to college. And year after year, we hear from our patients’ parents about things they wish they’d known before “moving day.” To help your college-bound student get off on the right foot, and to lessen the stress for Mom and Dad, we’ve developed these 6 helpful tips:
1. Self-care skills: laundry and cleaning
Make sure your child knows some basic self-care skills. This summer before he/she leaves, have your child help with the laundry (if he/she doesn’t already). You don’t want them calling in a few weeks telling you that all their clothes have shrunk or are dyed blue from their jeans.
Teach them how to use simple cleaning supplies. At many colleges, students are responsible for keeping their own rooms and bathrooms clean.
2. Cooking on their own
Cooking is something that many teenagers have never done for themselves. Teach your child some simple, healthy recipes so that he/she does not order pizza every night.
3. Emergency preparedness
Talk about what to do in case of an emergency. Make sure your child knows where Student Health Services is located and how to contact it if needed. If your child has a chronic medical problem or takes a daily medication, it is a good idea to find a local physician who can see your child if he/she has a health issue or runs out of medication. Have your child’s regular doctor send the medical records ahead of time so that everything is set up in case there is an emergency visit.
4. Time to talk about drugs and alcohol, again
Now is the time to have another serious conversation about drugs and alcohol. Drinking at college has become a ritual that most students believe is an integral part of their college experience. In a recent national survey, 40% of college students report binge drinking in the past 30 days. Talk to your child about drinking in moderation and not while they’re underage.
College students are also more likely to use marijuana (pot) and other drugs while away at school. Using drugs and alcohol puts teens at much greater risk of being in a car accident due to driving while under the influence, having a serious injury, being the victim of rape, assault or sexual abuse, and/or contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
5. Daughters and gynecologists
If your daughter has not already seen a gynecologist, schedule her first visit before she leaves for college. It is important for her to have a baseline visit where birth control, STD prevention and other sexual behavior issues can be discussed.
As many as 70% of American adolescents become sexually active by the time they are 19. This first sexual experience often occurs in college and often under the influence of alcohol. Make sure your daughter is armed with the facts about how to protect herself and be safe.
6. Schedule a visit with your child’s pediatrician
All colleges have health forms that need to be filled out before school starts. Your pediatrician will be able to do this for you if your child has had an up-to-date wellness visit. Often, vaccines need to be updated and screening blood work needs to be done.
Remember: Your pediatrician is a trusted source of reliable information for your son or daughter. If you are uncomfortable having conversations about sex, drugs and alcohol, your pediatrician is not. Please take advantage of our expertise!
Now, it’s time to hug them tight and let them go
Trust that you have raised your child to be responsible and careful. The time has come for him or her to leave the nest and learn to fly on their own. They will be fine!
You might also find these pages helpful from our Westchester Health Pediatrics website:
For more back-to-school advice, tips and ideas, get our
“BACK TO SCHOOL GUIDE: 10 Key Things Parents Should Know As Their Child Returns To School” by clicking here.