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Going Away to College: Transitioning the Younger Sibling

June 17, 2014

By Nely Bergsma

A girl helps her older sister unpack outside of the dorm.

As parents, the academic success of our children will remain a primary focus for quite some time. Before we realize it, our children are grown and it is time to send them off to college! Such a milestone can, and often does, change the family dynamic. How do you prepare your other children for the absence of their sibling as he or she goes off to college?

The impact of a brother or sister going away can be very great on a younger sibling. Older brothers and sisters play an important role in one another’s lives. They are often the family members a younger child looks to for support and guidance. How do we, as parents, help our children grow through this transition?

  • Take the time to talk with your college-bound child about the siblings who will remain at home. Gently remind your child that it is natural to be excited to head to college but not to lose sight of the sibling he or she is leaving behind. Discuss what the expectations are as your child looks to this new and exciting time in life.
  • Include the younger child in the transition process. Have him or her be a part of the preparation for the move. Bring the younger sibling along when you drop off your teen at school.
  • Encourage your child to regularly check in with the younger sibling. A quick text or regularly scheduled chat on the computer or cell can ensure that they stay connected. When your college-bound child makes an effort to communicate to his or her sibling, it assures the sibling that they may be out of sight, but never out of mind.

College is an important milestone in your child’s life. It is natural to focus your energy into ensuring that he or she makes a smooth and successful transition. When you acknowledge and address the impact of your child’s absence on his or her siblings at home, you can help ensure that no one feels unimportant or left behind. After all, as a family, you are all in it together.


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