Tips for Parents Feeling Anxiety About Their Child Going Off to College

As parents, watching our children head off to college is a bittersweet experience. As proud as we may be of their accomplishments, it’s natural to worry as well.

Any time we move from one phase of life to another, there’s a certain amount of uncertainty that comes with it. Certainly, the transition to college is a major change. Some parents may feel as if they’re losing their child, or worry their child will grow into a stranger.

So how can you manage these anxieties in a productive fashion?

Celebrate Independence

packing boxes in a carYou may be tempted to worry about your child as they head off to college, but projecting your fears on them might make them feel reluctant to open up about their life to you. Your first instinct when they start giving you updates on things might be to problem-solve for them or fret over their decisions.

Instead of giving into your worries, try celebrating their independence. When your child needs your help, they will ask for it—and you will be ready.

New Routines

Anxiety is closely linked to uncertainty. Accordingly, one of the best ways to combat anxiety is by adding structure and routine in your life. Any time we’re experiencing change in one area of our lives, there’s an opportunity to introduce changes in other areas as well. Consider this a good time to do things like implement a regular exercise routine, join a group for walks in the neighborhood, or reacquaint yourself with old hobbies.

Just as you might celebrate your child’s independence, this is an opportunity to celebrate your own independence as well. 

Mindfulness Practices

Grounding yourself in the present is an excellent way to keep your mind from spiraling into worry. There are several different types of mindfulness practices which may benefit you. One of the best ways to do this is by placing emphasis on physical sensations when you feel your anxiety building.

If you’re up late wondering what your child is up to, feeling restless, that might be a good opportunity to go for a walk and get a change in temperature, or spend some time cooking in the kitchen, soaking up all the tastes and smells.

Unorthodox Connections

Your child might not want to spend time on long phone calls or lengthy text messages, but there are other ways to stay in touch. Some friendships these days are maintained via back-and-forth in the form of memes and links to videos on TikTok. Get in the habit of sending messages without the expectation of an immediate response.

Seek out Supportive Connections

While it’s best to avoid projecting your worries onto your child, it is important for you to acknowledge those feelings. It’s reasonable for you to feel upset, angry, or even afraid. Watching our child leave for college can trigger many of the same feelings we normally associate with grief.

Seek out other people in similar situations to bond with. Look for people and spaces where you can express your worries without making your child feel responsible for them.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

Our anxieties nag at us, tugging at our ear until we stop to pay attention to them. While it’s important to ensure we express our anxieties in a productive fashion, there are several ways to do this safely.

A support group, certainly, is one way; but journaling is another. In your journal, you can explore your thoughts and feelings, let them wander, and make sense of them. Often, the simple act of putting your fears into words is enough to tame them.

Schedule an Appointment

Is your child leaving for college? Are you feeling like you’ve lost your anchor and your purpose? Reach out today to schedule a free consultation for anxiety therapy. I would love to talk to you about what you’re feeling and explore different skills and techniques that can help you manage your anxiety.