February 20, 2024

How To Help Your Child When They’re Homesick At College?


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It doesn’t matter how excited your child might be about going to college or university, and it doesn’t matter how much they’re looking forward to this new chapter of their life or the new things they’re going to learn; it’s going to be scary for them.

They might make this very much known, or they might hold it all inside, but the fact is, even the most confident of teenagers is going to be at least a little nervous about leaving home for the first time and forging their own path.

Although, in most cases, these nerves will soon dissipate, and they will get used to this new way of life and their studies, in some cases, it can become a real sense of homesickness that can affect everything they do and think. It can cause them to miss out on the fun elements of college and even not be as effective in their courses.

What can you, as a parent, do when this happens?

You might not think there is much you can do, but the truth is there are a number of things you can do that will help. With that in mind, read on to find out how you can help your child when they’re homesick at college.

1. Stay At Home

stay-at-home-to-help-your-child-when-they’re-homesick-at-collegeThe first thing you can do is not to do anything at all – at least in a physical sense. Many parents’ first instincts will be to drop everything and go to their children to be with them and help them as best they can. This makes sense; parents will protect their children in any way possible, and even if they don’t know quite what to do, they will still want to be close to them so that offering that protection becomes easier.

However, leaving your own home and traveling with your child is not a good idea. That’s because, although they might appreciate seeing you and being with you, there will be a problem when you have to leave again. After all, you can’t stay on campus with them forever. When you do have to leave, the situation can become much worse because your child will feel even more homesick. Plus, you’ll feel guilty.

The best thing to do is to keep in regular contact via phone or video calling. Send lots of texts and emails. This gives them a chance to get settled because most of the time, once they are able to do this, they will feel less homesick.

2. Send A Care Package

send-care-package-to-help-your-child-when-they’re-homesick-at-collegeIf you can’t go to visit your child at their college, or you feel, as we mentioned above, that it wouldn’t help the situation, why not send a care package instead?

A care package – essentially a box of treats and goodies from home – is a great way to make your child feel better and help them feel more at home in their new place. It will also give you peace of mind because the items you include will be things you have specially chosen to help out. Some examples of what you can send include:

  • Homemade food
  • Magazines
  • Vouchers for supermarkets or stationery shops
  • Music
  • Photos
  • Toys

You could choose to include things that can be shared which might make it easier for your child to introduce themselves to others, or you might include things that will help them know they are loved and that people are thinking of them. If you send a package once a month, this will give your child something to look forward to and will help them feel less alone.

3. Do Research

do-research-to-help-your-child-when-they’re-homesick-at-collegeHomesickness will often go away on its own, but it doesn’t always. Sometimes homesickness will last for a long time – perhaps the entire time your child is at college. This is not a good situation to be in because it means they won’t be able to do their best in class and on assignments. Homesickness can be a sign of a mental health struggle, or it could just be a sign that the college your child picked isn’t actually the right one for them.

As a parent, it’s time to do your research about this. Research homesickness and what it might mean for your child, and make sure you talk to them about how they are feeling rather than brushing the idea off. You can also research transferring colleges. A great example of the kind of resources available is the Purdue University college transfer guide at CampusReel.org. In some instances, the best thing to do is to start fresh at a new college, maybe even learning a different subject. Perhaps your child needs a year out or a different kind of learning environment. It’s always worth looking into.

Reduce The Amount You Get In Touch

We’ve mentioned that regularly talking to your child, or at least sending messages to them, is a good idea, and that’s true. However, assuming your child does begin to settle into their new life, it’s just as important to know when to step back. Do this gradually by reducing the number of times you get in touch during the day and eventually making it something you do once a week or so. By doing this slowly, it won’t seem like such a big change, and if it happens at the same time as your child is getting used to their new surroundings, it will seem natural and not be a problem at all.

It will be hard – letting go always is – but it will also be worth it when you find your child is happy and healthy and loving their new life.