Talking to Your Student

Various topics related to your student's health can be difficult to bring up. You want your student to feel empowered with making their own decisions, but know it is important you are still there to help them. Don't know how to start the conversation? See below for some helpful tips, or reach out to the contacts listed as an additional resource.

Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs

  • The transition to college: Pay special attention to your students experiences and activities during the crucial first 6 weeks on campus. With a great deal of free time, many students initiate heavy drinking during these early days of college, and the potential exists for excessive alcohol consumption to interfere with successful adaptation to campus life. Make sure that your student understands the penalties for underage drinking, public drunkenness, using a fake ID, driving under the influence, assault, and other alcohol-related offenses. In addition, make certain that they understand how alcohol use can lead to date rape, violence, and academic failure.
  • How to start a conversation: Inquire about how and what they spend their weekend enagaging in periodically. In addition, asking about their roommates, the roommates' behavior, and how disagreements are settled or disruptive behavior dealt with.
  • Additional resources:
  • FSU Contact Information: Joi Alexander — Assistant Director, 850.645.4973

Mental Health

  • The transition to college: Students are often led to believe that college will be the best four years of their lives. Although they will experience new, exciting things, increase their independence, and shape their identities, it is also common for students to experience significant amounts of stress during their time here given the unique challenges that college students face. As a parent, it is important to prepare your students for these challenges and be there to listen and offer guidance when they need it.
  • How to start a conversation:
    • Look for opportunities in everyday conversation to check in and see how they are managing the transition and the stressors they are facing.
    • Ask open-ended questions, be non-judgmental, and communicate concerns directly.
    • Remind them that everyone experiences difficult times and that asking for help is a sign of strength and maturity.
    • You aren't expected to be the expert but we you can be the bridge to get your student to the support he/she needs. Refer them to campus resources so they can get guidance from professionals.
  • Additional resources:
  • FSU Contact Information: Counseling Center (M-F, 8-4 for walk-in hours) 24 hour phone number: 850-644-TALK (8255)

Physical Health

  • The transition to college: With demands of college life, students' physical health and adequate nutrition, sleep, and physical activity may become difficult to manage. Students may cope with stress, anxiety, boredom, loneliness, and fatigue by engaging in unhealthy eating behaviors such as insufficient or over-consumption of food, emotional eating, and over-exercising, to name a few. In these situations, there may be noticeable physical changes in your child such as eating behaviors, food choices, low energy, lack of interest in engaging in activities, and changes in body weight.
  • How to start a conversation: If you notice a change in your child's body size or shape, food choices or exercise habits then try to avoid conversations focused on these topics. First, seek to understand their life challenges and struggles; let them know you are there for them. Express your concerns with your child in private. Offer to help them connect with wellness resources on campus such as the University Counseling Center (850.644.2003) and University Health Services (850.644.4567).
  • Additional resources:
  • FSU Contact Information: Joanne Perez Vergara — Registered Dietitian, 850.644.2524

Sexual Health

  • The transition to college: Educating a child about sex is an important part of his or her healthy development. Their early understanding of sex, love, intimacy and their own sexuality can help mold their values, behavior, and even their self-image, for a lifetime. You, as a loving parent (or family member), are uniquely qualified to be your child's first and best teacher. Educating your child about sex involves much more than explaining how the physical side of sex works. You'll want your child to understand that emotions, intimacy, moral values, personal responsibility, sexual orientation, gender differences and self-image all play a role in establishing our sexual selves.
  • How to start a conversation: Did you know that research shows that nearly four in 10 teens (38 percent) report that parents most influence their decisions about sex, compared to only 22 percent reporting that friends most influence their decision. That's why it's so important as a family member to be there for your student when they have questions about sexual health. The Office of Adolescent Health has a great guide full of conversation starters. To sum up some of their tips: Keep your composure, be present, be sympathetic, stress safety, provide the facts, talk with them instead of preaching, and have lots of discussion.
  • Additional resources:
  • FSU Contact Information: Kelly Grove — Sexual Health Coordinator 850.644.9715

Power Based Violence Prevention

  • The transition to college: The transition to college is an important time to talk to your student about power-based personal violence. Power-based personal violence refers to sexual violence, relationship violence, and stalking. While this topic may be difficult to discuss it is important to keep an open line of communication between you and your student. Florida State University has several educational programs for students to learn more about power-based personal violence prevention and ways to support individuals who may have experienced violence.
  • How to start a conversation: Look for opportunities to integrate sex, relationships, and communication into conversations with your student. Rather than a lengthy one-time conversation, look for ways to open the door for ongoing conversations. Ask open-ended questions, listen without judgment, and encourage your student to know campus resources. Explore Red Flags: Encourage your student to think about potential red flags they can notice in an unhealthy relationship or behaviors that could lead to sexual violence. This could include someone not respecting boundaries, who is aggressive, and is controlling. Talk to your student about ways they can interrupt these behaviors. Know Campus Resources: Familiarize yourself with campus resources and discuss these resources with your student.
  • Additional resources:
  • FSU Contact Information: Rose Rezaei — Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator, 850.644.4039

Nutrition Concerns

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