50% to 75% of the general population feel homesickness at least once in a lifetime. For children, this emotional distress is quite common. Many children who live away from their parents often experience anxiety and homesickness. Different individuals can experience different feelings of homesickness. Because mostly it depends on one’s level of adaptability and the coping strategies planned to support a significant change in life. In general, our habits, lifestyle, familiarity with our surroundings, etc., dominate our capacity to adapt to new situations.
Let’s jump to this exciting topic and discover what being homesick means. We begin with the definition first.
Define Home sickness
We can define homesickness as the feeling of longing for home while being away from it. In children, it can be an immense feeling. Because most of the time, children do not know the best ways of expressing and managing these intense feelings of distress. This feeling can be disturbing in children, so much so that it can interrupt their everyday functioning. And eventually, it also adversely impacts the child’s ability to make new relationships. All in all, anxiety and homesickness can be pretty severe for children. And stakeholders must follow a planned approach to equip children to cope with these.
Let’s understand some common signs that indicate that a child is homesick. And the ways to help them manage this intense feeling.
What are Some Signs of Anxiety Homesickness in Children?
Children who stay away from home (boarding school, homestays, hostels, etc.) often miss the care of their parents and the comforts of their home. The following signs prove that a child feels uncomfortable while away from home
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Difficulty in adapting to new surroundings
When children find it challenging to make new friends or feel uncomfortable in new surroundings, they mostly miss home. It is natural to feel connected to one’s home ambiance, like the unique taste of food, and feel secure with specific familiar faces, etc.
For parents/caregivers, it is essential to identify any signs of loneliness and guide the child accordingly.
International students in distress
Most international students aspire to complete their studies. However, at the same time, they also know what being homesick means to them. It is proved that many international students feel overwhelmed while being away from their near and dear ones. As per the insights of a report by ‘World Education Services, 42% of Indian students in the U.S.A. feel homesick. Almost 32% of the students also felt the same way.
Signs of hopelessness
Students of all age groups can also have extreme signs of anxiety, hopelessness, and mental health problems. Journals have reported some unfortunate incidents of self-harm due to stress and homesickness, such as the case where a girl jumped off a hostel building and got seriously injured.
Here’s a look at the strategies now.
How to Deal with Home sickness in Kids?
Indulging in Hobbies
Students can combat anxiety and homesickness if they get into the habit of staying busy with exciting hobbies. This keeps the struggle of separation from family at bay.
Read this fascinating article “10 Top Hobbies For Students To Improve Creativity & Productivity ” to learn about the students’ best hobbies.
Seasoned peers in an institution help students delve into better academic opportunities and make them feel more comfortable. Their wisdom is also an invaluable asset for new students who move in. Networking is a great process to build solid peer relationships. Students can define homesick feelings, vent out their emotions, and find credible solutions through their seniors’ constructive feedback.
Create a Familiar Ambiance
Small things in a child’s surroundings can make a lot of difference. When kids leave their families, they must be encouraged to take their favorite stuff. An old teddy, a classic book, family photos, a pen, mugs, a pillow, etc., can help reduce feelings of loneliness. Parents can discuss the rules with the institution. Pack the child’s favorite items (permitted by the institution) and other necessary stuff.
Prepare Children for Change
Young children often struggle to understand what being homesick means. But again, if we teach them how to label their emotions correctly and prepare them to deal with these, things can be manageable. If you plan to send the child to a hostel or boarding school, arrange a night out (at a friend’s or cousin’s place). You can also send your child on a short trip to their relative’s place to give them a hang of being separated from home. These experiences will help them to develop resilience to cope with the upcoming experience.
Parents/caregivers/stakeholders must also promote enjoyable activities/experiences like get-togethers in local sightseeing points, gardens, restaurants, coffee shops, etc., on weekly offs. Children can feel connected to their surroundings if they socialize with like-minded individuals. Besides these opportunities, getting kids involved in social work or community service activities is great. Parent-teacher organizations in any institution can mutually decide/promote these activities to help children/students beat anxiety and homesickness.
Do you know that kids who volunteer to help others enjoy better health?
Here’s a look at a couple of interesting facts:
Recently, research confirmed that 33% of the children who indulged in helping others (by volunteering) enjoy better health. It is even more astonishing that 66% of the children and teens who participated in such activities also flourished in consistency, willingness to complete tasks, and the ability to deal with hardships calmly.
We can reduce the impact of anxiety and homesickness through these planned strategies. All we need is the patience to wait till our kids settle in a new atmosphere and the willingness to render our unconditional support throughout their settling phase!
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Thanks for Reading!
Frequently Asked Questions
- Define homesickness.
Homesickness is when a child feels lonely and misses their home while being away from it
- What does being homesick mean?
Children/students often feel sad or depressed when they do not adapt well to a new environment.
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