Winter vacation is nearing and, as parents, for some of you it means your child will be coming home after being away for 3-4 months for the first time in their lives. You’re likely excited; so eager to see your child in person that the next few weeks may seem like an eternity. “Will things be the same?”, “what will be different?” you might wonder as you countdown the days. You’re already planning activities such as family events and meals, thinking about cooking your child’s favorite dishes and intending on spending some good quality time together.
You may hope your interactions with your child will be the same as before, but oftentimes, a few months away is sufficient to alter behavior and the status quo. As much as you will forever see your child as a baby, the fact is, going away for school — whether it’s boarding school or college — signifies the transition to adulthood and your child will want to be treated like one.
They’ve had some time to experience living independently, including making their own decisions and living under a different set of rules from your own house rules. Not everything will have changed, but if there are, understand this is a process of growing-up and being away. With this said, here are some tips to help you manage your expectations and interactions for this winter vacation with your child.
- Give him or her some alone time. You might want to spend every minute with your child while he / she is home, but it can put too much pressure on them if they think they’re supposed to be with you all the time. They may want some time to just sit in front of the TV, see their own friends or do nothing at home alone. From their perspective, after living with a roommate or being in a dormitory, it’s pleasant to have some private time in a familiar environment.
- Spoil them but don’t do everything for them either. Although you might feel compelled to do everything such as laundry, cooking, make their bed, wash dishes or even bring a snack or glass of water — and your child will likely appreciate it — doing too much can also create pressure. After-all they’ve been doing this themselves the past few months and may be used to it already. You can offer to do help them with certain tasks but if they say it’s not necessary, don’t insist, otherwise it could lead them to feel like a guest in their own home. It might even be fun for your child to show you that he / she is capable of doing many of these daily chores by letting them do it in front of you.
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Alicia Lui is a co-founder at Prep Beijing!, a coaching company focusing on core soft skills such as effective communication, social and emotional skills, etiquette, critical thinking and leadership skills. Prior to founding Prep Beijing! She has worked in management consulting and in banking. She holds and MBA from INSEAD and Bachelor’s from University of Chicago
Photo courtesy of helloandrew (Flickr)