While homesickness is an emotional state of mind, one in which the affected person longs to be back to the comfort and familiarity of home, there can be physical symptoms like headaches and nausea that can surface, making the emotional pain bubble over into tangible issues.
Often, for college students who suffer from homesickness, these issues can lead to problems with studying and maintaining a healthy social life, and even trouble sleeping.
So what, as a parent, can you do to help allay the homesickness for your child?
Here are six tips to help your college student combat homesickness:
Create guidelines for staying in touch
It's important to find some balance in contact with your child. Part of the importance in striking out on one's own is the ability to be independent, but you don't want them to feel like they can't rely on you always. Once a week is enough to be able to tell how your student is doing, but you know your child better than anyone else—use that knowledge.
Ask pointed questions when there is contact
Ask about classes. Ask about friends. Ask about eating, sleeping and studying. And after you ask, listen. You, as their parent, will be able to hear and tell when something might not be quite right for your student, whether it be homesickness or something else.
Homesickness brings with it a host of negative feelings. Encourage your child to be mindful that the feelings are temporary, that things will improve with time and that a positive attitude can go a long way toward remedying the situation.
Suggest activities and extracurriculars that lead to new friendships
No one can ever replace you, however, gently coaxing your child to get involved and make new friends is always a good idea. Talk them out of getting into an overly routine schedule—class, dorm, eat, dorm, class, etc.—which can lead to boredom and frustration and serve to magnify homesickness, and into getting “out there" and onto campus.
When a person is physically unhealthy, it affects his or her mind negatively, as well. Steering your child toward a healthy lifestyle, and maybe even joining in with them from afar, can lead to a much healthier attitude toward life.
Suggest UF Counseling Services
With a staff that's committed to helping students cope with personal problems, the
UF Counseling Services team offers quality personal counseling with the “Oiler" touch. From homesickness to self-esteem issues, they're here for your child.
Whatever you do, let them know you're there for them, and that their feelings are always legitimate and important to you. Before you know it, they'll consider UF their second home. And that's a wonderful thing.