College Students: Don’t forget Little Brother or Sister!

Right now you're busy with graduation, parties and friends—and soon you'll be packing your things. What an exciting and busy time these months are!

But have you noticed your kid brother or sister? As these days become hectic for you, your siblings can fade into the background. Remember: you starting college is a big change in their lives, too.

Here are some tips for making the transition as smooth as possible—and keeping your relationship strong.

Get sibs involved in the college process. Talk to your brother or sister about the college you will be attending, and show them catalogs and other material you've received. Some college students like having sibs along for campus visits, others don't.

Tell sibs about your feelings about leaving. There's nothing worse for a younger sib than to think you are 100 percent happy about moving away. Let them know how much you'll miss them.

Understand their feelings. Sometimes siblings become stand-offish or even hostile as your move-in day approaches. It doesn't take a Freud to figure out that they're pushing you away because you're leaving them.

Get them involved in your new room. Ask a sibling to make a poster, pillow, or other decoration for your dorm room.

Turn them into movers. Those little legs will come in handy on move-in day. Show your gratitude!

Make communication personal. When you call home, ask to speak to your siblings. Send e-mail just to them.  Text them often the first few weeks.

At college, make specific plans for when you go home. Tell your sib that the two of you will go to a sporting event or a favorite restaurant, so they know you're looking forward to seeing them. Then don't disappoint!

Arrange for a campus visit. Have your sibling come and visit; if it's an overnight visit, check with your residence hall to see if there are restrictions about having kids stay. Many campuses have a Little Sibs weekend, an excellent time to bring siblings to campus. "Our Little Sibs weekends at Western Michigan University are planned and run by students, with lots of activities the visiting sibs love," reports Laura Darrah, the assistant director of residence life at the college, located in Kalamazoo, Michigan. "We have had petting zoos, hayrides, football games, and other fun things. It's a great time to get a glimpse of college life and stay connected with the college student."

Lastly, leave something special behind for your sib to take care of for you.  An old favorite stuffed animal or special jersey.  Making them responsible for something that you care for will really show them how much you love them.

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