As a responsible parent, you have already spoken with your teenagers about the dangers of over-drinking, drugs and date rape. Have you also spoken with them about some of the less-publicized dangers of college campuses? How your children eat, how they protect their information and how they deal with stress can drastically shape their college experience and their lives beyond school. Read on to learn how to prepare your teenagers for a healthy, safe college experience.
The phrase “Freshman 15″ has become commonplace, but when discussing the challenges around diet at college be aware of focusing on weight gain — especially with young women — for fear of triggering eating disorders or obsessions with exercise.
However, with the abundance of food in dining halls, late night snacks and alcohol that ramps up calories for college-age students, it is important to teach young adults how to fuel themselves in a healthy way.
Consider sharing common-sense tips about eating slowly, realizing how full they are and teaching them how a healthy, well-balanced diet can boost moods and foster healthy brains.
For your teenager, falling victim to identity theft can be as easy as leaving a purse on the table to say hello to a friend. Off goes your daughter’s credit card, identification and cell phone — and it is very difficult to get life back in order.
Teach your children to regularly use the free credit reports authorized by Federal law on www.annualcreditreport.com. You can get a report from each agency every 12 months for a total of three per year to ensure that all information is correct and up to date.
Another way to protect your credit is to use an identity theft protection program. Companies like Lifelock offer resources to protect against identity theft and fraud using Internet monitoring, credit alerts, address monitoring, intuitive threat detection and more.
The latest survey from the American Psychological Association (in August 2013) shows that 30 percent of teenagers reported feeling depressed or sad, and 31 percent felt overwhelmed.
It is important for parents and children to know that chronic stress can cause anxiety, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system, leading to obesity, heart disease and depression. New college students will be missing their support systems at home and must develop new habits they can rely on for the rest of their lives.
One of the most effective ways to reduce stress is through physical activity. Encourage your children to get involved in social clubs, get a gym buddy or join intramural sports. Getting involved in activities where they can make friends will help them stick to it.
While it can be difficult to get sleep in college, it is one of the biggest buffers against stress. Encourage teenagers to cut back on TV in the late evening, and not to drink caffeine late in the day.
When stress gets a little too much to handle, ruminating on one’s own is likely to make the problem worse. Encourage your teenagers to write things down — a positive experience, or as a way to step back and examine their behavior — or to reach out and connect with you or a friend.