UNIVARSITY.ORG | How Parents Can Help Their Teens With LD Transition to College
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11 Sep How Parents Can Help Their Teens With LD Transition to College

Leaving home for college is one of the most difficult rites of passage for a teenager and his family. Some children may choose to stay home and attend a nearby college because they are not yet ready to make the separation. Others, meanwhile, move away to other parts of the country. Indeed, going to a residential college means breaking away from parents and stepping further into adulthood. The shift to college, despite all the excitement and thrills, also triggers feelings of sorrow, loss, and concern both for the parents and their children.

Children with learning difficulties often experience greater anxiety when making such a major transition. Parents, on their part, usually find it hard to let go of their children, despite the fact that, they too, are to eager see their children grow into mature adults.

How can parents help their teens with learning disabilities cope with the critical transition from high school to college? Here are some tips:

1. Nurture your child’s self-reliance and independence, but don’t forget to reassure him that you are always there when he needs you. Let your student pursue what he wants in college and handle important decisions independent of your input. He should be familiar with the resources available for academic help and advice.

2. Teach your child effective coping skills. During times of stress, it helps to use relaxation techniques, for example. One can take slow, deep breaths while visualizing a serene place or engage in distractions that help overcome anxiety or anger.

3. Keep in touch. Call him. Email him. Send him cards and care packages from time to time. Maintaining a healthy communication and sharing the family’s recent activities with your child makes him feel connected with the rest of the family.

4. Let him choose. Discuss with your child how will he spend important dates, such as anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays. Give him options on where to spend these dates because it is always important that you make him feel that he can decide on his own.

5. Foster positive relationships. Tell your child it’s important to make friends with others by joining school activities and attending campus social activities. Tell him he can invite his friends home with him during weekends, holidays, and special occasions. Having strong relationships with peers helps your child weather the stressful years in college.

6. Encourage your child to give back. Urge your child to join charitable organizations or do community service. Participating actively in the community boosts confidence, giving your teen a sense of fulfillment, accomplishment, and self-control.

7. Be there all the time. Always remind your college student that you and the rest of the family are always whenever he is feeling anxious, stressed, or lonely and he needs someone to talk to. Tell him that help is always available from family, friends, and his teachers. Most colleges conduct mental health screenings at the start of the school year. Tell your child that the on-campus counseling center is always open to help him should he encounter problems at school.

According to Dr. Arlyn Roffman, former member of the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) Professional Advisory Board, parents can help teens with LD transition to college by letting them see the bigger picture. Although they have areas of weakness, they also have their strengths. Making them aware of their talents and capacities fosters self-acceptance and readies them for the big step forward-crossing the college threshold.

Joan Azarva

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