The day your child heads off to college is an exciting time for you as well as for them.
While some people may consider their mom or dad duties done, you know that’s far from the case.
Even if your child isn’t living under your roof anymore, they still need your help to make sure they remain healthy while transitioning into college life.
You raised them to know right from wrong and to always eat their vegetables, but all the excitement of transitioning to a new environment has the potential to cause your child to ignore healthy choices in favor of what’s easy or what everyone else is doing. Slip-ups during that critical first semester could impact the rest of their college career, so it’s important you have a plan to help keep them on track.
No, you don’t need to be a helicopter parent. After all, college students are big boys and girls. Rather, these tips will show you what to look out for and, if necessary, help you nudge your child in the right direction so they stay healthy while enjoying college life.
Check Out Old Campus Buildings
Before you help your child set up their dorm on move-in day, it’s a good idea to do a little research about all those old buildings on campus. In fact, you might even want to do some research beforehand when you and your child are checking out colleges.
When you send your student off to school, you want to know if it’s a safe environment. If a campus building was constructed in 1975 or earlier, there’s a chance it contains asbestos.
Prior to the mid-1970s, it was frequently used for insulation and fireproofing. If disturbed and inhaled, asbestos can cause a fatal form of cancer called mesothelioma.
An Internet search will likely show a college’s asbestos policy. If not, you can reach out to the school’s administration for information.
Encourage Them to Hit the Gym
With so much going on during their first few weeks at college, students often put their physical health on the backburner. As your child settles into their new routine, you should encourage them to establish an exercise regimen.
No one wants to gain the “freshman 15” (gaining 15 pounds while in freshman year), but many students, especially those who participated in high school sports, don’t realize how easy it is to do. With all the time your student will spend sitting in class, physical activity is vital.
Many experts believe “sitting is the new smoking.” In addition to its physical benefits, regular exercise can elevate a person’s mood. It can boost your child’s energy levels and help them focus on their academic work.
Your child’s exercise routine can be as simple as walking around campus for 30 minutes each day. If hitting the gym is more their style, remind them to wipe down equipment before and after they use it. Gyms are one of the most common places that can get you sick.
To keep from getting sick, students should practice good personal hygiene and might want to consider keeping a small bottle of hand sanitizer in their gym bag. It’s one of the little ways to stay healthy when living in a dorm.
Ask about their sleep schedule
Like an exercise routine, establishing a normal sleep schedule is vital to both your child’s physical and mental health. Unfortunately, many college students fail to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night.
Sleep deprivation can have serious health consequences including weakened immunity, trouble concentrating, weight gain, and increased anxiety.
Many sleep-deprived students rely on energy drinks and coffee to get them through rigorous classes and late-night study sessions. Energy drinks and coffee have high levels of acid and can damage tooth enamel. Thus, encouraging a normal sleep schedule will also benefit your child’s dental health.
With your child no longer living under your roof, you can hardly enforce a bedtime. However, you can suggest that they refrain from looking at any screens before going to bed.
The light from their phone or laptop can trigger their mind to stay awake. Another way to help ensure uninterrupted sleep is to send your child off to college with earplugs and an eye mask so they’ll be able to block out noisy roommates.
other valuable tips:
Create a space for them
Moving forward, your child will be spending the majority of their time at school, but when they come home from college, you want to make sure they have a space where they feel comfortable.
Brainstorm ways you can update their childhood bedroom. Upgrading their twin bed and implementing a more adult color scheme are two possibilities.
While the majority of students are thrilled to be out on their own, the new situation makes others feel anxious. It’s reassuring for them to know they have a safe place where they are loved and accepted and that they can visit whenever they need a break. That knowledge itself can do wonders for a person’s mental health.
As part of creating a comfortable space for your child, consider upgrading to high-speed internet. In response to the coronavirus outbreak, many institutions have moved classes online. It’s important that your child has the tools and resources to study at home if necessary.
Transitioning into college life is a big step for you and your child. To help ensure their success in this next phase of their life, you can encourage them to make healthy choices and provide a comfortable space for them to come home to when they need a break.
With so much change, your child will be grateful for your guidance and support, whether they admit it or not.
Image Credit: child remains healthy by Pixabay
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