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Give Kids a Break During College Break

Keep stress low when they come home for the holidays

SUNDAY, Dec. 22, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- The holidays can be a time of great togetherness and pleasure for families, but it can also cause some stress.

For example, this is the first time since the start of school that many college students and parents will be with each other for an extended period and that can lead to stressful situations, says information from St. Lawrence University.

Students and parents may have conflicting views about how much time the student will spend with the family over the holidays. Parents may think their child should spend most of the time with the family, while the student may want to spend a lot of time visiting friends.

Parents may also be reluctant to view their child as an adult and make appropriate alterations to home rules. That can be frustrating for the student, who is now living as an independent adult at college.

Students may also be stressed by family changes. For example, parents may have decided to divorce or separate or single parents may have new companions or have new hobbies or interests.

Here are some tips on how to minimize holiday stress for parents and college students.

Parents and students need to plan ahead. Parents have to think about the needs of the student who is looking for a respite from academic demands. Students need to consider the needs of their parents, especially their desire to spend time together.

Students should include family time in their holiday planning and should let parents know their plans before they arrive home for the holidays. That gives parents fair warning about how much time their children will be away from the family while they're at home.

Parents and students should discuss house rules and come to mutual agreement on how they should be changed in light of the student's newfound independence.

If poor grades are a point of contention between students and parents, both sides should establish times when any talk about grades is off-limits.

If you're a student with a poor family situation, consider seeing if a friend's family is willing to "adopt" you for the holidays. Or you can make other special plans that don't involve your family.

More information

The State University of New York has more advice for students who are home for the holidays.

SOURCE: St. Lawrence University, news release, December 2002
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