Are you the proud parent of a soon-to-be college student? If so, the habits you instill in your young adult matter more than the care package you deliver to their dorm.
What should your kids know before departing for university? Here are eight healthy habits that all college students should take back to school.
1. Meal Planning
Meal planning for most college students resembles picking up their cafeteria meal ticket. After all, dorm rooms rarely feature full kitchens — your child is lucky if they have a microwave for reheating midnight snacks.
However, you can reinforce healthy eating habits with each meal you share at home. Teach your kiddos to look at their plate as a clock and fill half of it with plant-based goodness at each meal. Such foods typically contain fewer calories and are rich in antioxidants to promote good health.
Your child should also know what foods to avoid. Anything that’s overly processed is suspect, as are foods laden with white flour and sugar. Such ingredients provide instant energy but come with a debilitating crash later, leading to overeating and the dreaded freshman 15.
2. Healthy Snacking
Your child’s college cafeteria probably doesn’t stay open 24/7. They need to keep nourishment in their rooms for those late-night study sessions. It helps if they know how to snack healthfully.
You can play a role when you bring care packages. Instead of calorie and fat-laden chips, opt for single-serve bags of air-popped popcorn for fiber that keeps them full past midnight. Provide them with plenty of chopped veggies and dip for their mini-fridge, so they get nutrients, not empty calories. Let them munch on some nuts for the added magnesium — it helps stave off migraines and depression.
3. An Exercise Program
Movement is essential to keeping your body functioning the way that it should. College is often when your children form their adult habits, and daily exercise should be one of them.
Help your kiddo find activities they love. Those who participate in sports get their daily quotient on the playing field. However, consider setting a more sedentary child up with a fitness app so they can work out in the relative privacy of their dorm.
4. Personal Hygiene
The novel coronavirus hasn’t disappeared, and some vaccinated individuals have had breakthrough infections. Vaccines remain the best protection against severe illness, so please ensure your child gets theirs before heading off to school.
However, your not-so-little-one still needs to defend themselves against infection. Please ensure they have a supply of masks regardless of their campus policy. It’s still better to wear them indoors to cut down on risk. They’ll also need hand sanitizer when they can’t get to a sink and plenty of soap.
5. Sleep Hygiene
College life means pulling the occasional all-nighter. However, prolonged sleeplessness can harm your child’s health. It makes them more accident-prone and could even decrease their immune response.
Set your child up with the tools they’ll need for a good night’s rest in what can be an unconducive location. A pair of noise-canceling headphones drown out the floor din so that they can catch a catnap between classes. A face mask shuts out unwanted light, or, better yet, a bed tent provides needed privacy when their roommate keeps their study lamp on until the wee hours.
6. Social Skills
Going off to college is a scary time for many youths. One of their biggest concerns is how to meet friends.
Help your child get the knack of meeting new people. It’s okay to role-play scenarios at home so that your kiddo knows how to react in various situations before the pressure hits. Ensure they have plenty of resources for meeting people, such as information about clubs and sports offerings when you go through their orientation.
7. Boundary Setting
Teens can sometimes make mistakes out of a desire to be liked. Ensure your child knows how to say “no” as clearly as they can say “yes.”
Help your teen learn to identify their feelings and listen up when they feel angry, sad or frustrated. Explain that these emotions aren’t inherently negative but rather clues that something is wrong. Empower them to trust their gut and clearly yet kindly say “no thank you” when behavior violates their moral code.
8. Stress Reduction
College life comes with a considerable amount of stress. Your child needs healthy outlets to avoid maladaptive behaviors like drinking to cope.
Help your child establish habits like a daily meditation practice. They don’t have to sit in a lotus pose on a yoga mat. They can also use mindfulness activities such as coloring to unwind.
Parents, Ensure Your College Students Take These 8 Healthy Habits Back to School
Your child’s academic success hinges on their physical and mental well-being. Parents, ensure your college students take these eight healthy habits back to school.