When you introduce the idea of camp to your children, the first reaction expected is of excitement, looking forward to making new friends, being away from home and new experiences. For some children, however, the idea of being away from home might be frightening and a cause of anxiety.
If homesickness isn’t managed properly, your child may not take home the full excitement that comes after attending camp, and it may deepen the anxiety of being away from home next time.
Here are three ways you can help your child with homesickness and anxiety without being part of the problem.
1. Have a conversation before camp
When the first couple of conversations are thrown around about the idea of camp, slight inserts of, “How exciting would it be to spend some time with new people?” should be thrown in the mix. It’s very important that you phrase your language in a positive context and emphasize the excitement and benefits of this new experience.
When there is hesitancy, or when you can sense your child’s nervousness, that’s when you probe further in an attempt to discover where their anxiety stems from. This will help both of you move forward in finding a solution.
2. Stay in touch
Keeping in touch may be unfavourable when handling homesickness, as this could trigger your child to want to go home. The trick here is how you do it. When contact between you and your child occurs, again, you need to be on the positive end. Ask questions. For example, what has been their favourite activity so far, who is their favourite counselor, what food they’re eating. This allows them to focus on the good aspects of camp, and storytelling allows them to carve their own notions on their experience. This will help them forget about their anxiety for a while.
When your child starts exhibiting anxiety, affirm that you understand. Don’t do this in a sympathetic way, but rather as an empathetic parent. This allows them to unburden their feelings, which often makes them feel better, especially when you remain positive, offer encouragement and advice. This will motivate them to conquer the situation on their own, while knowing that they have a support system.
3. Talk to the Counselors at camp
When you sense your child really isn’t coping, you can speak to one of the counselors at camp to see if they can’t help your child cope better. Now this doesn’t mean that your child will be getting special treatment, but rather that the counselors are aware and will approach the situation in a way that will equip your child to overcome this hurdle. This is not an opportunity for you to tell the counselor how to handle the situation, but rather a heads up from you as a parent to the camp.
We hope that these tips help your child overcome their homesickness, so that they don’t miss out on an incredible camp experience and all the personal benefits it has to offer.