How to Discipline Your College Student Who Is Living at Home
When your child is attending a college nearby, it makes sense that he lives with you to save on costs. Unfortunately, some college students take advantage of the arrangement and make parents' day-to-day life more difficult and expensive. To combat communication problems and hurt feelings without giving up your wants and needs, schedule a meeting to talk with your college-bound child and work up a contract that defines expectations and outlines consequences.
Sit down and talk with your college-bound student about the living arrangements. Since your child is now considered an adult, it's important to approach both communication and conflict in the same way you would with another adult. This sets a clear line as to how you expect your relationship and the living arrangements to work without simply relying on the current status quo.
Outline your concerns about having a college student living at home. Don't offer basic rules without reasons. For instance, instead of saying you want her to come home before midnight, note that you want to lock the doors at midnight and don't want your sleep interrupted by noise. This shows the logic behind certain rules rather than causing a power struggle between you and your fledgling adult.
Discuss consequences if he breaks your house rules. You can institute a "three strikes" plan, where you discipline for each separate incident, but after three problems, your child can no longer live with you. Other disciplinary tactics could involve losing car privileges, going from rent-free to paying rent or a ban on guests in your home.
Sign a contract outlining the details that you've discussed together. This way your expectations are clear, and you both agree upon the rules of the home and the consequences for breaking those rules. Tack the contract somewhere that you can refer to it easily should your child begin to rebel against the rules.
Show firmness and consistency when disciplining your college student. As an adult, she chooses her actions and what she does with her own resources, but as soon as it affects your recourse or living standards, it's fair to impose punishment. Remind your student that living on campus also would come with rules and regulations -- often more stringent than yours. By being consistent, you can ensure that your college student doesn't take advantage of the living situation while preserving the parent-child relationship.
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