How To Handle Homesickness At Sleepaway Camp
If you are sending your child away to a sleepaway camp in the Capital Region this summer, there is a possibility he or she may feel some separation anxiety. There are many factors that can contribute to these feelings of homesickness, and quite frequently children who choose to stick it out can overcome the loneliness and enjoy themselves at camp.
Even before your child leaves, you may start hearing, "I changed my mind. I don't want to go to summer camp." Before quipping back, "You're going," take time to talk it out and try to understand your child's fears. Work through possible solutions with your child, and let them know that you will be there for them if it gets too difficult. Give them a special charm or memento to carry with them to sleepaway camp, and tell your child to take it out anytime they are missing you.
Many parents have seen success when they find a friend or family member to attend the same camp. Having a familiar friend there can sometimes help children not feel so scared or alone during those first few days (and nights) at sleepaway camp. Consider possible friends, playmates and cousins who might be able to attend the same sleepaway camp with your child. However, keep in mind this does not work for all children, so it's important to find a solution that makes your child feel most comfortable.
If you receive a letter or phone call from camp and your child sounds less than excited about being away from home, it doesn't necessarily mean that sleepaway camp isn't for them. Before you reach for the car keys, try to understand why your child is having these feelings. Oftentimes homesickness is brought on suddenly by an unfavorable social encounter that day. Wounds like these simply need time to heal, and your child will likely be having fun again in no time.
As a parent, remember homesickness is not your child's fault and should not be treated as a rite of passage that they need to endure. If you believe they can overcome it, though, give them a chance. Allowing children to conquer their fears and overcome an emotional obstacle without mommy or daddy coming to the rescue can foster growth in resilience, independence, and self esteem.
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