‘Tis the season where families get ready to send their children off to summer camp. It is a time of great excitement but also can be a time of great anxiety for both parents and children. Even kids who aren’t particularly anxious often get a little nervous as this summer event approaches. Before the great send off takes place, try some of these tips to make your child’s experience one to remember (in a positive way):
If you child has never been separated from you, it is a good idea to practice – shorter term sleepovers or a night at Grandmas for some rehersal.
Involve your child as much as possible in all phases, big and small, of the process from camp selection to choosing activities. This gives your child the feeling that he is in control and allows him to formulate expectations.
Help your child get excited about camp by taking her shopping for new gear and focusing her on all the fun things about camp.
Share Your Experiences
Reflect on your own camp experiences and share the positive experiences with your child. Show that you are willing to talk about the new things he’ll be doing, whether it’s sharing a bathroom, getting along with cabin-mates, or choosing a partner at a square dance.
- Keep the good-byes short. Difficult as it may be to peel a crying, clinging child off your leg and walk out the door quickly, it’s the best strategy. Lingering just delays the agony for your child (just like pre-school or daycare).
- Be a role model for your child and model your confidence! Make it clear you understand that being away from home can be scary, but show that you are confident your child will do okay. Kids pick up anxiety from parents, so if you’re anxious, they will be too.
- Focus on the positive! Reassure your child by reviewing all of the good things about camp. Talk to your child about what he will do and learn over the summer. Remember, camp is about learning new things and meeting new people, all of which builds a child’s self-confidence.
Communication During Camp
Make communication easy for your child. Pack envelopes and stamps, create a tentative schedule for phone calls or emails (if allowed), and make sure your child understands how easy it will be. Send regular post cards and care packages to your child. There is nothing better than getting something in the mail while you are away at camp!
And For the Parents
First, be sure that you feel comfortable in the camp you have selected. Call the director a few times with in the first week to make sure your child is doing well. Now that you have no safety reason to worry it time to try and move on.
- Enroll in a special interest class. While your kid is away learning something new during the summer break, you too could take advantage of the opportunity to enroll in a personal interest class such as cooking classes or yoga courses. Whatever your preference might be, there is an available adult summer class for you.
- Date Night ! Try to go out for a nice dinner and see a movie.
- Learn a hobby. You could learn how to do cross-stitching, baking, photography, or other things that interests you.
- Finish or start reading your piles of books and finish watching your tons of DVDs . Nothing beats days of lazily doing nothing in the house and just being a couch potato.
- Pamper yourself for a day in the spa and a stroll in the mall to shop. Surely, you won’t really be depressed if you experience the things you love, right?