Tag Archives: parents

Homesickness in College Students

How to Deal with Homesickness in College

One of the main causes of distress in students is homesickness. According to the UCLA Higher Education Institute, over 30% of college students experience low-level homesickness, and about 69% of first year college students experience severe homesickness.

Homesickness is more than the concept of missing home or missing family — it’s the feeling of longing and feeling out of place. Whether they’re nearby, out-of-state, or studying in a foreign country, college students are not only experiencing a new phase of life, but they’re also at a new school, in a new place.

Although it’s normal to feel homesick, wanting to enjoy a home-cooked meal with family or not wanting to deal with adult responsibilities and academic pressures may quickly make homesickness grow. Homesickness builds in waves and can turn into more serious mental health issues if not taken seriously.

Last year, Assist America worked on a severe case of homesickness, helping an 18-year-old student from Germany who was hospitalized after his homesickness transformed into serious depressive episodes.

In the weeks leading up to his hospitalization, the student had shown increased signs of homesickness, including mentioning that he wanted to go home, a decrease in the desire to participate in activities and social events, and suicidal thoughts.

After a while, his roommates told the university staff about his behavior, and he was later admitted to the hospital. Once he was stable, Assist America arranged for transportation supervised by a medical escort to take him back to Germany.

Tips for Overcoming Homesickness

Some preventive measures can be taken by both parents and students to help overcome homesickness.

For Parents

  • You can help your child prepare for college life by visiting the campus ahead of time so they can familiarize themselves with its surroundings.

  • In the years before college, consider sending your child to summer camps, activities, or to visit family away from home , so they can gradually learn to deal with separation anxiety.

  • Avoid expressing your own anxiety about your child leaving for college in front of them. Instead, talk optimistically and positively about their new experiences to come.

  • Encourage your child to find trusted friends and adults on campus. These relationships will help them build connections in their new community and ease the transition.

  • Consider sending little surprise care packages to your child. Include their favorite cookies or candies, a new book, gift cards to their favorite stores, a letter, and a funny family photo.

  • Make the most of technology. Staying in touch on the phone or through video chat is easier than ever and can help the whole family feel connected.

For Students

  • Stay engaged in campus activities. Many colleges organize welcome week events to help students get used to college culture.

  • Establish and stick to a daily routine, even if it’s difficult to stay on track with exams and events around every corner. Routines are good for dealing with stress and anxiety and will help you adjust to your new community and class schedule.

  • Feeling homesick is normal, as long as you can handle the situation. To help battle feelings of loneliness, keep a family picture on your study table, video-chat often, or go old-school and write letters to family and friends back home.

  • Find ways to reward yourself as you make gains in your new routine. For instance, after submitting an important assignment or taking a big exam, take some time to do something fun or treat yourself with something you like.

  • If campus is only a drive away, you and your parents and friends can plan a few weekends throughout the school year to visit each other on campus, at home, or to meet at a halfway-point.

  • When packing for college, take some of your favorite decorations from your room to make your new room feel more like home.

  • Know what services are available to you to help you cope with homesickness. Too often students don’t realize all the things their college has ready to help them with exactly these issues. Never shy away from seeking advice from a trusted adult on campus about these services. Or you can look into these services privately on your school’s website.

While Studying Abroad

  • Students who study abroad are even more likely to feel homesick since they have to adjust to a whole new culture and lifestyle, learn to speak a new language, and meet all new people from many backgrounds.

  • A challenge while studying abroad is knowing who you can ask questions and how and where to get help. Before leaving, create a reference list with the names, contact details, and roles of people that will be helpful during your stay. Once you arrive, be sure to add anyone important you meet to your list. 

  • Schools often have an international student department who will organize welcome events and get-togethers. Be sure to attend those activities, especially at the beginning of your time abroad.

  • Many international programs also have Facebook groups where former and new students can exchange tips and experiences. Joining these groups to make connections and prepare before leaving home.

  • Make friends with people from the same country as you. When you’re missing home, spend time together. Your shared experience of studying abroad can make you feel a little closer to home.

How Assist America Can Help

Assist America provides useful services that can reassure parents and students studying out-of-state or abroad.

For example, Assist America can help students find where and how they can refill certain prescriptions before they even leave home, so they can plan their departure with peace of mind.

Students who know they will need to see a doctor while away from home can call us or Assist America for referrals. Assist America also provides emergency trauma counseling for students on the phone, with referrals for follow-up sessions with specialists.

Finally, students going to a foreign country can use the Pre-Trip Information tool on Assist America’s website and the mobile app to familiarize themselves with their destination.

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National Child-Centered Divorce Month

National Child-Centered Divorce Month

July is National Child-Centered Divorce Month. Thinking about your kids if you’re going through a divorce doesn’t mean staying together for their sake. It just means you’re considering their feelings and emotions while making choices.

Considering Your Kids During Divorce

 

If you’re getting a divorce, take the time to sit down together with your kids and explain the decision whenever possible. Presenting a unified front, even at this difficult time, is important for your family.

Discussing the Decision as a Family

 

Put yourself in your children’s shoes and validate their feelings while handling a divorce. They have a right to have feelings about the situation and to express them.

Safely Expressing Feelings During Divorce

 

Remind your kids that they’re not at fault or a cause of the divorce, and reassure them at each step that mom and dad will always be their parents. 

Don’t ask them to take sides or put them in the middle of arguments. Make sure they feel comfortable loving both of you and talking about it.

Avoiding Putting Your Kids in the Middle

 

Focus on change and not blame. Help them understand the changes that are coming to all of your lives and how you’ll work through it together. 

Focusing on Change as a Positive

 

Be confident and consistent when discussing the divorce with them. You should both decide on how you’ll handle issues with the kids upfront and be ready to communicate with them about these issues consistently.

Consistency During Divorce

National Children’s Awareness Month

National Children’s Awareness Month

June is National Children’s Awareness Month and the perfect time to talk about child abuse and neglect.

Child abuse is any act that results in serious harm or risk of harm to children, including physical violence, exploitation, and death. Failure to take action to stop this is also considered child abuse.

Child neglect is when a child isn’t provided basic needs like food, clean clothing, and medical care.

Child Neglect Signs

 

A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds, and 91% of child abuse is committed by parents.

Reporting Child Abuse

 

4 to 5 children die from abuse or neglect every day in the U.S., and 75% of these children are under the age of 3 years old.

The Risk of Child Neglect

 

Children often can’t speak up to protect themselves from abuse. Some physical signs of abuse include visible and severe injuries, like bruises, sprains, and burns that aren’t easily explained.

Protecting Kids from Abuse

 

Children who avoid or fear situations or a certain person in their life and who have extreme behavior, nightmares, and difficulty expressing their thoughts and feelings may be experiencing abuse.

Signs in Children's Behavior

 

If you know kids with low self-esteem, who have strong shame or guilt, or who have slowed development mentally, physically, or emotionally, they may be experiencing child abuse.

Development in Child Abuse Survivors

 

If you suspect child abuse or neglect, contact your state’s agency for help.

Colic Awareness Month

Colic Awareness Month

It’s Colic Awareness Month, and if you’re expecting or are a new parent, it’s good to learn more about colic.

Colic is frequent and intense crying in an otherwise healthy infant. It can be extremely stressful and frustrating for new parents.

Symptoms of colic include screaming and crying for no apparent reason and fussiness after crying. Their face can get red, and their whole body can get tense.

Colic Symptoms

 

Colic frequently sticks to a predictable schedule, usually with crying episodes happening each evening.

Colic Crying on a Schedule

 

Colic usually peaks when an infant is 6 weeks old and declines after they’re 3 or 4 months old.

When Colic Happens

 

The cause of colic is unknown, but researchers have explored digestive issues as a possible reason. Smoking during pregnancy does increase the risk of your baby developing colic.

Cause of Colic

 

Colic can increase the risk of postpartum depression in mothers, as well as the stress, guilt, and exhaustion that can come with being a new parent. The important thing to remember is to never shake your baby when you can’t comfort them.

Parents and Colic

 

If you’re worried that your child might have colic, talk to your doctor and schedule an appointment to do an exam. They’ll make sure there isn’t a more serious issue causing your child’s discomfort.

Talk to Your Doctor About Colic

Fun Summer Activities, Like Make Believe

Fun Summer Activities

Summer means as parents, you might be trying to fill your kids’ days with something more substantial than TV. Give these fun summer activities a try.

Get the whole family moving and take your dog to a park. Just check the pavement first. If it’s too hot to keep your hand on for 7 seconds, it’s too hot for your pup.

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Do you need a moment to breathe? Try these kid-friendly yoga moves and do it together.

Yoga for All Ages

 

Hit the road for a classic summer road trip, just make sure your kids’ car seats are in safely. Road trips are a great time to introduce your kids to new music or audiobooks and see new places.

Summer Road Trip

 

Make learning or getting active fun for your kids. Do they hate reading? Give graphic novels or comics a try. Do they love video games? Try these active Wii games.

Get Active with Video Games

 

Museums, aquariums, and zoos are a great way to make learning fun, and hands-on children’s museums are more available than ever. Find one now.

Learning Made Fun

 

Never underestimate the power of make-believe and dress-up, which let your kids explore complex subjects and build creativity.

Make nighttime summer memories that will last a lifetime with stargazing. Keep an eye out for special events like meteor showers or learn some constellations (there are some handy apps for that), grab some blankets and hot cocoa, and head to the country.

Stargazing Adventure

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Surviving the Sandwich Generation

Vantage Point: The Importance of Support While in the Sandwich Generation

My husband and I are starting to talk about future property purchases, which has led to many conversations about what we would want in a house or property. I want land. He wants something that he doesn’t have to fix up. Our conversations have swung from a giant, ridiculous wish list to then coming back to reality about what’s on that wish list.

One theme that I’ve been consistent with in all of our talks is that I want a place to take care of my parents when they get older in the future. This is so true for my mother, as her family has often lived into their 90s.

This notion of caring for them on my property has been solidified even further with how unsure Medicare is, how expensive the healthcare system is, and the fact that I want them to have the best care while staying close to family. I figure I can achieve this by buying a property that’s big enough to parcel out a place for my parents.

I haven’t really thought of all the logistics, but the plan is stuck in my mind, and it’s framing what kind of property and home I want. This type of thinking has also led to conversations with my father about what he thinks they would like and need, if and when the time comes for them to sell their home and live with us.

When this happens, if not a little before, I’ll officially be smack dab in the classification of the sandwich generation, the people who are responsible for not only caring for their own kids, but also for their aging parents. According to the CDC, as of 2008, there were 34 million unpaid family caregivers in the United States. I’m sure that figure is much higher now.

I saw my mother do this with her mother, so I’m not afraid of the season when it comes; I just want to be prepared. Being prepared means thinking now about what will make life easier for all of us in the future.

It’s also about knowing and looking out for the pitfalls. I’ve heard from many others that this season of life can be so rewarding while you’re in it, but it can also be very taxing, so it’s important to be extra vigilant in taking care of yourself. In order to keep loving others, we have to keep loving ourselves.

This means that sometimes you need a break! This break could be a spa day, a long walk, a furious cardio kickboxing session, or just talking to others who are in similar situations. It takes a village, right?!

I’ve compiled a list of some support groups for those who are in this situation. Some support groups are local, and some are virtual, but they are all there as resources for support. And if you want something more local that fits what you’re going through, you can always start your own support group. There are tons of advice and tips online on how to make a new group successful. I think the best advice I saw when researching this article was to keep it simple and to feel accomplished even if only 1 or 2 people show up.

Local Support Groups

Memorial Hospital’s support groups

Alzheimer’s Association Caregiver Support Groups

Granger – For Spanish-Speaking Caregivers – Starting Soon
Estela Ochoa
Call 206-529-3877 before attending for location, time, and further details.

Yakima – For Caregivers
Location: St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church
4105 Richey Rd.
Yakima, WA 98908
Meeting Time: 2nd Thursday of the month, 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Contact Elaine Krump at 509-969-3615 before attending.

Yakima – For Spanish-Speaking Families
Call Manuel at 509-833-3334 before attending for location, time, and further details.

Online Support Groups

Caring.com has a broad list of caregiving groups for you to choose from. Access to these groups requires a free member account.

AgingCare.com has some groups for you to choose from, and you don’t have to become a member to access these groups.

Caregiving.com has online caregiving support groups, daily caregiving chats, and blogs written by family caregivers.

 

Breck Obermeyer is a community liaison with Health Alliance Northwest, serving Yakima County. She is a homegrown girl from Naches and has a great husband who can fix anything and 2 kids who are her world. When not attending community events or providing Medicare education throughout the Valley, she can be found indulging in her hobbies of homesteading, pioneer cooking, and learning new survival techniques. She also has a strong love for all things Halloween.

National Child Support Awareness Month

National Child Support Awareness Month

This week is National Child Support Awareness Month, and we have resources to help you and your kids.

Back-to-school can be expensive. Check out this local, free back-to-school haircut event.

Need help with back-to-school supplies? Find free school supplies in Illinois.

Back-to-School Creativity

 

Want to give back to help students in Illinois with supplies? Give to Operation Backpack.

Getting All Kids to School

 

Need help finding childcare? chambanamoms.com’s local guide can help you.

In Smart and Safe Hands

 

Find family-friendly events, including free ones, by following chambanamoms.com.

Free Fun for All

 

Child support resources in Illinois for parents, employers, and even lawyers are just a click away.

A Guiding Hand

 

Find fun ideas for spending time with your kids as a father and much more.

Father-Daughter Day

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