The way in which you say goodbye to your kids before a new experience can either encourage them or incite panic and despair. For children, a new experience can be scary and they depend on the support from their parents in order to respond to this experience positively.
Here are some Dos and Don’ts for certain first-time-experiences:
Saying goodbye at school for the first time:
Watching your little one walk away from the car into the school gates for the first time is often a very stressful experience for parents. However, it is much more challenging for your child, be it the first day of primary school, high school or college.
DO encourage your child and speak about how exciting this new experience will be. Focus on the opportunities it will offer and the positive things to look forward to in the day. The trick is to be more excited than your child, and your excitement will surely rub off on him or her.
DON’T think of all the things that could go wrong and don’t share these thoughts with your child. Feeding your child’s mind with negative body language and expressing doubts will not encourage them to look forward to this new opportunity. Your child will emulate your anxiety, resulting in them feeling “on edge” all day long.
Saying goodbye for their first sleepover camp:
Sending your child away for a week-long sleepover camp can be rather nerve-wracking for both parents and children. Homesickness, safety concerns and the thought of your child having an unpleasant experience are one of parents’ greatest concerns.
DO your research about the camp to put your mind at ease about the safety and enjoyment of the venue. Read online reviews, request a tour of the camp if you can and ask all your questions.
DO start encouraging your child’s excitement in advance. Research the fun activities they can participate in at camp by watching YouTube videos or visiting their website. Take your kids shopping for their camping experience. Whether you’re just getting a few odds and ends or searching for the best insect repellent or sun block, it will definitely get them excited. Be sure to tell them about how this opportunity will allow them to create new friendships.
DON’T tell your kids about how much you will be missing them. This will probably make them feel guilty about being away from home and is one of the main contributing factors which lead to homesickness. Don’t call the camp and request to speak to your child too often either. It’s best to send an email which can get passed on to your child, rather than interrupting your child’s first experience sleeping away from home. If you do call, remember to sound happy and encourage your child to share what they’ve enjoyed so far and to make the most out of this experience.
Saying goodbye before their first solo flight:
The first time on a foreign mode of transport is a scary ordeal for anyone. No parent necessarily wants their minors to be unaccompanied when traveling, however, certain situations will require them to be independent and conquer this fear.
DO Tell them about how proud you are of them for being so responsible and going on a plane by themselves. This will boost their confidence.
DO Share the interesting things they would fancy on a plane ride, such as the good food, free drinks, window seats, fun onboard games and movies etc.
DO Reassure them that they will be safe and that air travel is the safest mode of transport in the world. Also, inform them that they are not alone and that the airplane has a host of friendly and helpful staff who will be there to assist them at all times.
DO prepare them for turbulence and the speed of take-off, so they aren’t terrified when it happens. Explain that this is a normal and common thing for planes.
DON’T discuss all the things that could go wrong on this journey, such as a plane crash, or plane hijacking, etc. This is not encouraging, even as a joke, and will send your child running for the hills when it’s time to board their plane.
DON’T look or sound concerned or sad in front of your child. Your emotions have a major impact on your child’s behavior.
No matter the situation, remember to always be encouraging and speak confidently when saying goodbye to your kids. Keep reminding them of everything positive that they will experience and they will conquer their “first-time-alone” fears with confidence.