4 Lessons to Teach Your Daughter Before She Leaves for College

The time has come for your daughter to leave the nest and head off to college.

She might feel ready but you never will.

Conversely, she does not understand what she is in for, but you do. So why not use what life has taught you to prepare your child for her collegiate years and beyond?

As a parent, you always want to protect her, but deep down you know you can’t, particularly if your teen will head to college far from home.

Which is exactly why it is so hard to let her go.

Here are 4 best things you can teach your daughter before she becomes a college freshman.

1. How to Analyze Problems and Make Smart Choices

Not only are college freshmen surrounded by a wider range of choices than ever before, but they also have a greater amount of freedom than they may have ever experienced before. If you haven’t taught your daughter how to analyze her options and make decisions, college can overwhelm her.

Until now, you or other adults may have been her greatest influencers, and now her peers might take that place. This is where it is also important to teach her to make smart choices about her influences.

Emotional intelligence is a valuable skill to have in vibrant collegiate years and, thankfully, it’s something she can learn.

Not only will your daughter have to navigate through a range of competing influences, but she will have to deal with roommates, professors and other authority figures without your presence to guide her.

2. How to Engage In Self Care

When your daughter is at home, perhaps you are doing all the things for her like cooking or doing her laundry. It is understandable that parents want to care for their children, but it would be good to prepare them to care for themselves.

Teaching your daughter good eating habits is essential. This includes knowing how to cook healthy meals for herself and even understanding what makes up as one. Girls will be subjected to many new influences regarding diet and body image, so the best thing you can do is give her a solid foundation concerning nutrition and good food choices.

A healthy body image is not the only thing you should teach your daughter about her body.

Knowing how to recognize when she is sick and how to care for herself is also critical. Your daughter should be aware enough to know what is normal for her and what is abnormal so she can get proper medical attention.

It is also important that she learn not to listen when someone tells her something is “all in her head,” even from a medical professional. Your daughter may have to fight to get the care she needs, so make sure she knows how.

Sit down with her before she leaves and make sure she knows what to do in an emergency, who to contact and has ready access to everything she needs.

3. How to Use Technology Like an Adult

When your daughter lives at home, you may have parental security protocols in place to keep her from accessing certain sites or content and you may keep security software up-to-date.

While there is no perfect way of doing this, keeping your daughter too sheltered may not help her navigate well when she leaves your house. Helping her understand how important solid passwords, how to use social media as a professional and even how to create an appropriate email address are all a part of helping her learn to use technology.

Becoming a tech-savvy student also means accounting time and using technology to help with productivity, not just for fun. You can research together to find apps and programs to simplify her life. These can include safety apps like panic buttons or getting around some productivity apps like Google Drive or Evernote.

You can tell her about using the Pomodoro technique or the Kanban system for arranging her schedule and managing coursework.

While you can explain what works for you, it’s even better is to give her the tools and a system to find what works best for her.

4. The Management and Meaning of Money

Your daughter is or will soon be 18 and therefore eligible to take on debt with or without your permission. One of the best things you can do to help keep her saddled with as little debt as possible is to teach her good money management skills.

Even if you pay for schooling and her expenses, she can still rack up a significant amount of credit card debt if she chooses. That’s why teaching her to manage money is far more important than just simply providing for her.

Helping her manage her finances includes both teaching her how to set up a budget and how to live within it. Before she goes off to college, you can make her responsible for some of her own expenses and not bailing her out if she runs out of money.

You can also teach her to track her money by writing down every dime that comes in and every dime that goes out.

If you don’t control your money, your money starts controlling you.

Research shows that tracking your spending alone helps create better spending habits. And it doesn’t have to involve envelopes or bookkeeping, everything can be easily managed from a smartphone. Keeping track of cash can also make her more responsible for it.

With teaching your daughter the best life skills, there are no hard and fast answers.

Some parents may seem to “coddle” their children more but still end up with responsible adults while others are more strict, but their children go off the rails.

There is no way to be a perfect parent and there are no guarantees of success – but there are some best practices to try.

Marina Pregl co-owns a digital agency and enjoys discovering new formulas for spreadsheets. Whenever she finds the time, she is writing about life, self-improvement or her experiences. She firmly believes in hard work and talks about business on her blog Pinpuff. She has a turtle named Petra.

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