Leaving home and going to college represents a major step into adulthood. Although this can be an exciting time for both you and your child, it can also be a time of loss and intense emotion. The mix of both joy and sadness can be confusing for some parents as they navigate through this time. To help make the college transition easier:
- Maintain a supportive relationship with your student, especially during the first year.
- Allow space for your child to approach you and set an agenda for some of your conversations.
- Be realistic and specific with your child about financial issues, including what you will and will not pay for, as well as your expectations for how he or she will spend money.
- Be realistic about your student’s academic performance, recognizing that not every straight-A student in high school will be a straight-A student in college. Help your student set reasonable academic goals and encourage him or her to seek academic assistance when needed.
- Refrain from burdening your child with problems from home that he or she has no control over and can do nothing about.
- Obtain contact information for people involved in the various aspects of your child’s college experience, and involve your child in a collaborative effort to address the problem.
- Accept your emotions. It is normal to have mixed feelings when your children leave home. It is normal to feel some level of pain and loss and also some relief when your children leave for college.
- Support yourself. Develop and maintain your own social support and do your best to maintain your own sense of well-being.
Common Behavioral Signs Associated with Transition
It is not uncommon for anyone to experience one or more of these signs during some point of their life. These behaviors could raise concern if they occur for an extended amount of time or if your student is experiencing several during the same time period. Parents can assist by monitoring your child’s health and, if needed, encouraging them to seek further help. Be on the lookout for:
- Loss of interest in activities the student once enjoyed
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Trouble sleeping; too much or too little
- Significant changes in appetite and/or weight
- Not going to Class
- If they have experienced a recent loss
- Overreaction to criticism
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Flat affect or mood
- Excessive crying
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
- Repeated unwanted thoughts or obsessions
- Intense episodes of fear or panic
- Social anxiety that affects behavior
- Physical symptoms; trouble breathing, dizziness, headaches, rapid heart rate. Rule out medical cause first.
- Self-injurious behavior
- Talking /writing about suicide or plans to harm themselves or others (requires immediate attention)
Below are a few questions commonly asked by parents about their son/daughter receiving counseling services while attending Trevecca. If you have further questions you can contact the Director of Counseling Services, Dr. Sara Hopkins at 615-248-1653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What to do when your son or daughter is having difficulty or is in crisis?
As a parent you may be in a good position to help the student acknowledge that there is a problem. Talking promptly, openly and caringly about your observations and concerns will likely have the best result. Here are a few suggestions on how to respond to changes you may observe in your son or daughter.
- Don’t “put off until tomorrow.” Gently raise your concerns with your son or daughter as soon as you notice problems. Ignoring disturbing behavior is unlikely to “make it go away.”
- Have a caring, concerned nonjudgmental discussion of your concerns. Choose a time and place carefully to allow for a private and honest discussion.
- Listen at least as much as you talk.
- Avoid the tendency to be critical or judgmental.
- Avoid the temptation to offer easy solutions to problems or to “take care of everything” for your son or daughter.
- Know your own limits. Do not feel pressured to take on the problems yourself. University staff may be better trained to help students with specific concerns. Being able to refer your daughter or son to university resources if a vital role you can play.
- Know the resources available to your child on campus. RD’s are available to address any concerns you may have. Your student can also contact the Counseling Center if needed to receive free services.
Confidentiality and Parents
The TNU Counseling Center believes that confidentiality is an essential component within therapeutic relationships. If your child choices to participant in counseling we will keep this information confidential and private. This is according to both state and federal law that mandates that confidentiality be maintained when individuals seek mental health services. We are unable to disclose any information about students who may have been seen at the Counseling Center without written permission from the student. This can be very frustrating for parents and we respect the concern that you have for your child’s well-being. Asking your student for permission to speak to their counselor can easily resolve this concern.
What services are offered at the Counseling Center?
The Center provides counseling for all students free of charge. The Center also host several psychoeducational training each semester. The Center works with other departments on campus to develop relevant trainings and outreach for your student to move them towards holistic health.
The Counseling Center also provides various group counseling opportunities. These are arranged based on need and availability of staff.
Who will be providing clinical services to my son or daughter?
The Counseling Center is overseen by Dr. Sara Hopkins. She is available to see limited clients during the semester. The Counseling Center also has four master’s level interns that provide counseling services to students throughout the year. These individuals receive frequent clinical supervision by Dr. Hopkins. Further information on the staff can be found under the Counselors tab on this webpage.