When your child first starts at university it can be scary and confronting – and that’s just the parents! There is that niggling fear that your child cannot survive without you and you are also concerned that they cannot do things for themselves; they may starve, or not know how to wash clothes, or be on time for lectures and how will they cope financially? You will need to provide financial, moral and emotional support for your child and it is not as hard as you may think! Believe me, they won’t starve. Here are my top 5 tips for supporting your studying child:
#1 – Be prepared to let them go!
When your child first starts at University they will call you every 5 minutes just for a chat or to ask the most simple of questions. Don’t worry, they have not made friends yet, just listen to them! After 2 weeks or so you will probably hardly ever hear from them because they would have made a group of friends so they will not need those long chats from you anymore. Don’t cling to them – ‘let them go and fly the coop’; it’s the best thing you can do for them. After all, this is the time in their lives that they will form lifelong friendships.
#2 – Be the stability in their lives!
Starting study can be an overwhelming time in your child’s life. Make sure that you are the rock for them to cling to in their times of need. This emotional backup from the family is just what will make your child resilient to the uncertainties in their lives. Above all, remain calm in anxious moments.
#3 – Be interested!
Make sure that you remove their fear of failure by being interested in what they’re doing. Support their decisions, even if they choose to change courses a number of times while they are finding their feet. Leave the decision of what happens in their lives to them. This will teach them independence, but they’ll still know you’re always there for them.
#4 – Money! $$$$$$
Naturally this part of support is the part we all accept as parents, but it may come in many different facets. There are always the books; paying for each semester’s books is a great way to help your child financially, as these are quite often a very expensive part of studying. But there are small things that can help, like the occasional tank of petrol in their car, paying for their internet and student fees. If they don’t have a car pay for their bus passes. If they live away from home – I found taking frozen leftovers of last night’s casserole, roast or stir-fry really popular and helpful. Leftover desserts are particularly popular with Uni students, and taking them out for an occasional treat for dinner is a great break from their usual student cuisine.
#5 – Encourage them!
This is a very basic part of supporting your child…… but important! Be sure to encourage them to stay focused on the end goal of their studies, because they will undoubtedly have moments where it seems so far away and unachievable. Encourage them to apply for available scholarships, make use of the support services available on the university campus such as the Learning Centre for help with problem areas of study, career counselling, and join on campus clubs such as sport and to seek support from their appointed Student Relationship Officer. Check out his link to some helpful tips on supporting a child in study.
Let me know if you have some other useful tips on supporting a studying child!