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August 2014 - Leaving for College: Separation Anexiety - How Parents Can Help

Leaving home to go off to college can be a stressful time for students and parents alike. While it is an exciting time, there is often anxiety about the changes that are taking place. Students are leaving the security of home, family, and friends to face new social, academic, and financial challenges. They may feel anxious about the increased workload, managing their finances, getting along with roommates, making new friends, and handling increased exposure to alcohol and drugs. Even the most confident students can feel overwhelmed, stressed, and confused as they face separation from all that is familiar. These feelings are a normal part of the process of transitioning to college.

In addition to the separation anxiety your college-bound child may be feeling, don’t be surprised if you suddenly find they are easily provoked, irritable, pulling away from you, and arguing about things you never argued about before. It is appropriate for college-aged children to be separating and individuating from their parents. Arguing is one of the ways adolescents have of differentiating themselves from their parents and establishing themselves as separate individuals with their own thoughts, values, and beliefs. This can be a difficult time for parents, who want to protect their children, and for adolescents, who are struggling to become adults. However, these are normal and healthy stages of human development.

There are some things parents can do to help their child feel more secure and less anxious about going off to college:

  1. Listen. Let your son or daughter express their feelings without judgment. Your child needs your emotional support. Remind them what they are feeling is normal and they are not alone. Keep the lines of communication open.
  2. Be positive. Talk about the college experience in a positive and encouraging way - more independence, making new friends, interesting courses, etc. Negative talk only heightens your child’s anxiety.
  3. Let your child make more decisions. Your child is experimenting with more freedom and independence. Offer your advice only if asked, or needed, and provide constructive feedback. Letting your child practice making decisions on their own, in a safe environment, can help them make better decisions when they are on their own.
  4. Express confidence in your child. Your child is probably feeling insecure about their ability to handle the demands of college life. Remind them of the successes they have had in the past and let them know you have confidence in their ability to live on their own.
  5. Teach them some practical skills. Doing laundry, cooking a simple meal, or balancing a checkbook may seem like second nature to you, but they may not be to your child. You can help build their confidence by teaching them some practical skills.

Visit for Making the Transition to College: A Guide for Parents and for more information.

This can also be a difficult time for parents who may be experiencing their own separation anxiety. If you are having a hard time letting go, your EAP Coordinator can provide you with a referral to a professional who can help.


This Month's NYS Balance Webinar

Getting Involved with Your Child's School

Along with the notebooks, pens, and a new backpack, your child needs parental involvement to succeed in school. Learn effective ways to be a part of your child's school experience.

Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m.

Register for the webinar on the NYS-Balance website.

  • Username: nys
  • Password: balance

To participate, you will need an Internet-connected PC and a phone. If the Webinar is not scheduled during your break or lunch time, you can view it later online.


EAP is seeking a Research Foundation and Management Confidential Employee to become a voting member of the committee. The Management Confidential position will be available September 1, 2014. There is a one hour per month time commitment for the monthly meeting. Anyone interested should contact Mark Hill, Chair at extension 6673 or by email at


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