tips for communicating with your college student
Posted : October 29, 2013
Last Updated : December 6, 2016
When communicating with your college student, there is a fine line between offering just enough support and being too smothering. Your child will need your guidance throughout his college years, but he will also want to experience freedom in order to become an independent adult. Use these tips to help you find the right amount and type of communication without becoming too overbearing.
Let your child set the ground rules for phone communication. Phone calls usually require more time commitment over other modes of communication, such as texting or social media, so it’s best if you let your busy college student set ground rules for telephone calls. If you call too often, your child may feel frustrated. If you call too little, your child may feel forgotten. Each student/parent relationship is different, so be sure to discuss with your child how often he would like to call home and receive calls from home. Some students will want to talk with their parents multiple times a week, while other students will prefer fewer phone calls.
Use various avenues to communicate. As mentioned above, phone calls require more time commitment and can therefore be more frustrating if received too often. However, busy students are less annoyed with other forms of communication, such as texts, emails, social media, etc. because they can return messages at their convenience. Sending quick texts and email/social media messages are an easy way to keep in touch with your child on a regular basis. Just don’t overdo it!
Use video chat to communicate with your homesick student. If your student is ever homesick, use video chat options, such as Skype or FaceTime, to help him feel closer to home. Include other family members and family pets in the video chat. Being able to see and talk to family members will help comfort your student when they experience moments of homesickness.
Provide support through cards and care packages. Let your child know that you are thinking of him by sending cards and care packages. Add a little note in the card or package letting him know how proud you are of him or wishing him luck on an upcoming test. This gesture may even prompt a thank-you phone call from your busy student!
Don't be too intrusive. When communicating with your college student, don't be overly intrusive. It's okay to ask questions to find out about his schedule, what he does in his free time, upcoming assignments/tests, etc. but avoid asking for too many details about each subject. Ask open-ended questions and let the conversation unfold naturally.
Offer a listening ear. Let your child know that you are always open to hearing from him. Encourage him to call if he has exciting news or even if he just needs to vent. If he has good news to share, be happy for him. If he needs to vent, don't give your advice unless he asks for it. Just try to lend a sympathetic ear.
College is a busy time for students to grow into fully-functioning adults. Work with your student to find appropriate times and ways to keep in touch during this hectic and exciting period of his life.