5 Simple Ways To Help Your College Student When They Are Homesick

This post is all about how to best help your college student when they feel homesick and lonely.

My mind was spinning. Who could I call? I desperately missed home and everything that was familiar.

My friends were no longer near. I had just moved away to college…a 700 mile road trip away from family. Although I was so excited to begin my new adventure, I suddenly felt the wave of homesickness wash over me as a freshman at Taylor University.

I had no choice but to put myself out there and introduce myself to complete strangers. The more I mingled with other students, the more comfortable I felt.

I learned a lot about myself that freshman year and I have discovered that feeling homesick or lonely is very normal for most students. Now I am a mom of four and I know what it is like to have homesick college kids.

The first year of college is a BIG DEAL and I have 5 easy tips that you can use to help your college student when they feel homesick or lonely.

But before we dive into 5 easy tips to help your college student when they feel homesick or lonely, we need to resist the urge to immediately fix the problem. Oh how we want to control and fix things for our kids, but I urge you to first do some reflective listening.

Resist The Urge To Immediately Fix The Problem

Even if hearing about your child’s loneliness makes you feel extremely uncomfortable, don’t try to immediately rescue them. We might be tempted to speed dial Southwest and book the next flight home for our kid, but of course this doesn’t solve the problem. Rather, offer an empathic and supportive listening ear that validates their feelings. You can follow these steps in communicating with them.

Step 1 “What I hear you say is…”

When your student has expressed that they are homesick or lonely, respond with this:

“What I hear you say is…..” and then repeat what you believe your child just told you.

This phrase allows your student to confirm what you think she is trying to communicate. If not, it gives her a chance to restate her thoughts.

Step 2 “Tell me more…”

Next, you can ask your child to

“Tell me more about what you are thinking about… or

“Tell me more about what you are feeling about….”

This allows you to learn more about her thoughts at an even deeper level. You can intentionally quiet your racing thoughts as she expresses her thoughts and feelings.

Step 3 “I can only imagine how that must feel”

When we use this phrase as we communicate with our children, we show empathy and can step into their emotional experience.

I love this step and have tried to incorporate it recently into my conversations with my kids. I have been amazed how this simple phrase has allowed my children to open up more about how they are feeling and has given me more empathy without trying to solve their problem or issue for them.

Step 4 “That makes sense.”

This final step in the conversation validates how your student feels. When we express this phrase, it doesn’t mean we necessarily agree with them.

However, it does validate their feelings and allows us to eventually propose other thoughts or ideas that perhaps they haven’t considered.

Once we have listened and have validated our children’s feelings and thoughts, then we can eventually propose some solutions and ideas.

Here are 5 simple ways to help your college kid combat homesickness

group of college girls

  1. Encourage your student to keep their door open

    When I kept my door open at college, other girls would pop in and say hello and see how we had organized our room…how we had lofted our beds, or they would ask if we wanted to go to the dining hall together that night.

    When doors are open this gives the sign to other students on the floor that you are welcome to drop in and say hi…

  2. Encourage your student to say YES to clubs and organizations available

    College offers SO many new opportunities and experiences for students to take advantage of. It is an easy way to meet new people and try new things. Yes, studies are important but getting together with others gives your students an opportunity to connect and make new friends faster than other students who simply go to class and then lock themselves in their room.

  3. Have a “no home visit” policy the first two months of college if possible

    During my freshman year of college, our president had a “policy” that students should refrain from visiting home until Thanksgiving. Some students and families felt a bit puzzled by this “policy” but looking back, I now fully appreciate his wisdom. Staying on campus forced me to integrate into the student body quickly during those first critical months of my freshman year.

  4. Students should avoid scrolling through social media of their high school friends

    Remind them that their friends aren’t going to post how miserable they are or how homesick they are. Your child should avoid the comparison trap of

    their loneliness with photos or reels of kids posting how amazing their college experience is right now.

  5. Send your child a care package

college care package

Care packages stuffed with encouragement and reminders of how they can do hard things are golden when they are feeling lonely or lacking confidence in their decision to attend college. Hope and encouragement goes a LONG way.

If you have a daughter that recently moved away to college, check out our beautiful subscription boxes, College Girl Cherished. Each care package is curated with quality self-care products, fun lifestyle products and encouragement. She just might want this beautiful hug from home.

Final Thoughts

It can feel really unsettling when your child calls you in tears or expresses through text messages that they are homesick, miserable, and lonely.

However, I want to encourage you that with time and a listening ear, these emotions typically pass as your student gains confidence in trying some of these tried and true tricks to beat homesickness.

Wishing you and your family all the best.

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