The Countdown to College

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It’s only July. But for those that have a child heading to college in the fall, you may be a little or a lot concerned already, depending on their maturity level and how far away he or she will be when September comes around. Here are a few ways to help an aspiring adult along with the process before they leave the nest, hopefully, for good.

6 tips to help your college bound child:

Don’t bail them out: Young adults need to learn that their actions have consequences; but that won’t happen if you swoop in and save them every time life gets tough. Whether those consequences are the result of typical life stuff (like losing a job or a girlfriend); breaking house rules; or a more serious violation (like getting a DUI or a write up on the job), let your child experience the natural results of their actions, and try not to get in the way.

Teach them to cook: To a newly free college student, a grocery store can be an exciting and intimidating place. You may not prevent your child from eating ice cream for dinner or gaining the freshman 15; but give them a fighting chance by teaching them a few easy, healthy recipes.

Bring back chores: Doing laundry, keeping common areas clean and doing dishes are all things your child will need to do on their own when they get to college, so why wait? Bring your teen into the action by giving them explicit duties around the house. In addition, don’t do anything for your child that he or she can and should be doing for themselves.

Keep communication open: Let your kids know that they can always come to you for help or guidance, even if you disagree with their choices. Discuss what difficult scenarios might come up at college, and let your child know that you expect an honest phone call if they do. Finally, be open with your child about any sincere fears and concerns; at the same time, let them know you are rooting for them, and that you’ve always got their back.

Get buy-in: It’s OK if you’re still paying for a good portion of your child’s expenses; but if she or he is working this summer, they should be contributing in some way, even if it’s just a small amount. Figure out what percentage of their income will go towards car insurance, the phone bill, etc., and then collect.

Model good behavior: It might seem like a good idea to just sit your kids down with a PowerPoint presentation and teach them the things you wish somebody else had taught you. But when it comes to instilling values, your behavior is much more influential. So, yes, teach your kids how to do these things–how to take responsibility for their own actions, apologize, be generous with others, ask for help, extend forgiveness, and admit when they’re at fault, by doing them yourself.

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