It's pretty stressful, taking care of a sick child. Add in a long distance and you amp up that stress level.

Here are six things you can do to help de-stress the “sick student” situation.

1. During the college visit, find out where the Student Health office is. Your child will need to know, eventually. Good questions to ask at the Student Health office are:

  • What are their hours?
  • How are they staffed (i.e., nurses, nurse practitioners, and on-call physicians)?
  • If something serious happens, where is the nearest emergency room?
  • If your child needs prescription medications, how do they get them?

2. Educate your child about wellness before they head out. Make sure they know the basics about their health:

  • Do they know how to properly wash their hands, and do they do so, often?
  • Will they get their flu shots if you aren’t there to nag them?
  • Do they understand what constitutes a “good food choice"?
  • And: probably a lost cause, but do they understand the value of sleep?

3. Does your child have insurance? If not, check the cost of the school’s student insurance, which in our case was very reasonable. Make copies of their insurance cards, in case they lose them, before they head off to school.

4. It’s helpful to network with other parents at a parents’ weekend. Some parents live close by and can be called if you are in an emergency situation, or are just anxious.

5. I recommend you include a first-aid kit in the items they will need in their dorm room. I believe in including chicken soup, tea, and honey — they come in handy for a cold.

6. Lastly, your child should know what the college’s policies are about missed classes, due to illness They will also need to obtain missing assignments. If a call or e-mail needs to be made to a professor, that’s up to your kid, not to you!