Prepare Your Kids for College With These Life Skills
Pretty soon your kids will be off to college and you won’t be as responsible for the day-to-day details. Sometimes that can feel a long way off when you think about how much you still do for your kids. These are some life skills to prepare them and help them on their way to success in college:
Open mail on receipt promptly and action it.
This seems like a really simple thing but it’s the easiest way to fall behind financially. When you don’t know what you’re responsible for or you think you do, but you don’t bother to open the mail to realize it may have changed now you’re stuck not knowing what to do because you didn’t bother to open the mail, that’s when calls to mom and dad for a bailout happen.
Plan for the worst.
A lot of crises are born from optimism. This is especially true when bills are split between roommates. Someone bails on the rent or doesn’t chip in their share for the bills and it can be a disaster if there is no plan. Teaching kids to contingency plan is such a useful skill. Start by asking them, “What are you going to do if things don’t go according to your plan?”
Write it down.
The biggest lie ever told is “I’m going to remember that. I don’t need to write it down.” Start early teaching your kids to maintain “to-do” lists so when they receive their syllabi, they know how to map what needs to be done when so they can get everything done and meet their deadlines.
Find an outlet for big feelings.
College life can bring major stress and if your kids don’t have a built-in strategy for managing the tough stuff, they are more susceptible to using alcohol and drugs in a way that can be problematic. Work with them to have a plan to manage stress by doing safe things that they enjoy. Share our list of Calming Apps with your kids!
Keep in touch.
Social media makes maintaining the illusion of staying in touch easy, but it’s no replacement for face to face contact. Making time for quality time as a family helps reinforce the habit of connecting. Having a safety net of people based on strong relationships nurtured through communication can make talking through the dilemmas that come with college life easier.
In college, there is so much temptation to procrastinate. Start early by reinforcing the habit of “get it done now!” When you notice your teen is putting something off, ask, “Is there a reason you can’t be doing this now?” Be the voice in their head that reminds them to be like Nike and “just do it!”
Relationship goals: fight fair.
Model the kind of relationship you hope your kids will have. This doesn’t mean never fighting in front of your kids, but it can mean modeling conflict resolution skills and reconciliation when there is conflict. Without an example of conflict resolution, there’s a tendency to catastrophize that all conflict leads to dissolution or to default to less than healthy fighting. When you show your kids what a relationship can be, they might be less likely to settle for less than they deserve.
College is a once and a lifetime experience. Nurture a practice of gratitude and celebration to help them bring that to their college days so they can build memories and enjoy themselves. There’s a lot of stress and the expectations can be overwhelming. Learning to find the good in it all can make it less stressful and more memorable.
It seems like yesterday they were headed off to pre-school and in no time you will be loading up the car with their worldly goods to drive them off to a dorm somewhere. The bad news is you can’t go with them, but the good news is the habits you instill can.