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Kids walking on a college campusMADISON – Your son or daughter leaves home and enters college for the first time after months of gushing about the fun experiences they anticipate on campus and the new friends they will meet.
A week later, they call to say they are homesick. They're coming home.
"One of the biggest mistakes parents make is to rush to campus and bring them back home for the weekend," says Gwen McIntosh, MD, a pediatrician at American Family Children's Hospital and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
"That can set up a pattern of more frequent weekend visits home, and the student not getting fully integrated into college life and social activities where they can make friends. Parents should reassure their kids that they love them and that things at home are the same as they've always been."
McIntosh says using electronic media is the best way to stay in touch with college students and help alleviate the fears of living many miles away from home.
"Open up Facebook accounts, send e-mails, or text messages," she says. "Using those tools will provide assurance to the student, but not exacerbate the homesickness."
This is not to say every kid is cut out for campus life. McIntosh says parents should look for signs that tell them it really is time to bring them home.
"Parents should be concerned if phone calls from their son or daughter are not decreasing over time, or if they are not seeing signs that their kids are forming friendships through coursework, clubs or activities," she says.
"They should also look for signs of social isolation, depression, consistent alcohol abuse, and significant mood changes. Those are the emotional red flags that should tell parents the campus isn't the right place for their son or daughter or it isn't the right time for them to be away at school."

Date Published: 08/06/2009

News tag(s):  gwenevere c mcintoshchildren

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