If you ask globally mobile parents what they dread most about living overseas there is a good chance that high on the list will be their child going overseas to university. The number one concern for all parents is their child’s wellbeing. But how do you ensure their wellbeing when they are so far away? What if they don’t make friends? What if they don’t eat properly? What if they get sick and you are on the other side of the world? It is perfectly normal to feel like this; though that doesn't help when the anxiety kicks in!
This is the first of three articles designed to help parents with strategies that other parents have used to support their own children's wellbeing. This month’s article is about what you can do in the year before your children leave for university.
Tell your child that they look rested after a good night’s sleep. Validate good sleep habits whenever you can so they internalize its importance for themselves.
Try to provide opportunities for your child to buy food and cook healthy meals. Keep in mind what country your child may be going to university in and, thus, what types of healthy food ingredients will be affordable and accessible to them.
Tell your child that you value their time exercising as much as their time spent studying. Encourage them to make it part of their routine so that they can maintain that routine when they head off to university.
Encourage your child to reach out to students who are already attending the universities they are researching via university websites and social media sites. These students are a great source of information but more importantly, your child is getting practice reaching out to students they do not know.
Talk Through the What Ifs:
Make a habit of talking through scenarios. How will you get clean laundry if the machine breaks? What if you lose your wallet or phone? If they develop good answers to those kinds of hypotheticals when they are with you, they’ll be all the more confident to handle real-world problems when they arise at university. And you might feel a little less anxious as well!
It’s perfectly normal to worry. But you will worry less if you have taken time to do a few little things in that last year before you wave them off to university.
Next month’s article will focus on wellbeing tips for the first few days and weeks of a new overseas university experience.
Natasha Winnard has come across many amazing young people in more than 20 years as an international educator, guidance and college counselor, and mentor in schools in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America. Natasha Winnard Consultancy provides holistic, personalized guidance for young people and their families looking for support in the world of international education.