Seems like just yesterday you were bandaging boo-boos and making sure your little ones stayed healthy and safe. Now that they're all grown-up, they have to contend with dorm mishaps, bumps, bruises and sickness all on their own. Make sure they know they have three main lines of defense:
- Keeping Healthy: Attractive though it may be to eat junk food and stay up all night now that mom's not watching, that's a recipe for a weakened immune system. Add in the stress of exams and the shared germs of communal living, and you've got a recipe for strep, flu and misery. College terms are much too short and exam-filled for a kid to loll in bed, nursing a cold. Encourage your child to get enough rest, stay hydrated, eat healthy and get some exercise, even when mom's not watching. And make sure he or she has gotten all his vaccinations before he leaves for college.
- A Good First Aid Kit: Forget the American Express card - don't leave home without a good first aid kit. Whether your child is off to college or moving into his first apartment, make sure he's well equipped with the obvious - bandages (my college kids are partial to Sponge Bob bandages (compare prices) because that friendly, silly little face evokes childhood pampering), Neosporin (compare prices) or a similar antibiotic ointment, ibuprofen, a thermometer, alcohol-based sterile wipes, tweezers, cough syrup or lozenges, vitamins, and any other medicines your child relies on at home, such as allergy medications, Benadryl topical ointment or gel (for mosquito bites) or stomach-soothing antacids. I always tuck in a few packets of fruity Vitamin C lozenges and Emergen-C (compare prices) too. Or better yet, make one of your own that not only looks good, it sports important first aid 101 tips - on the outside.
- The R.A. and Student Health Services: Some problems can't be solved with bandaids. Whether it's a spiking fever, a cut that won't stop bleeding or a substance abuse problem, your child needs to know where to turn for help on campus. Dorm resident assistants (or community assistants) are specially trained to cope with health emergencies, as well as run of the mill dorm issues. The R.A. will find your child the help he needs through the student health center or emergency services. Together with the campus police, the R.A. can arrange transport to the campus clinic or nearby hospital, if the situation warrants. And if the issue is mental health-related, the R.A. can connect your child with the appropriate counseling help on campus.