How do you communicate with your child when they are away from home for a prolonged time? Whether its for a sleepover holiday camp, school tour or even if they’re spending a few days at a friends house; the way you communicate with your children when they are away affects how much they will enjoy their away-from-home experience.
More parents and children are reluctant to spend time away from home whether it’s for reasons that have to do with safety, homesickness or insecurity. However, it is important that parents don’t communicate their insecurities so that their children can enjoy themselves and long-term, so that they can grow up into independent and confident people.
At Sugar Bay Resort, a holiday camp for kids and teens, we challenge both parents and children to write letters to one another the traditional way when at camp. We allow our campers to write a letter to their parents on the third day of camp. These letters are then scanned and emailed to parents, opening the door of communication between parents and their children. However, the parents’ replies are often very formal and lack the gist of a meaningful letter.
Here are 6 tips when communicating to your children when they are away from home, whether it’s a letter or over the phone:
Find a private and distraction-free place to speak to your child so that you can really listen. They can tell when you are busy with something, or not listening, so don’t try to multi-task. Focus completely on your conversation or the letter you are writing.
- Avoid talking about home:
Ask questions about where they are and what they have been up to, rather than talking about home life. It’s important to recognise that as a parent, your words play an integral part in homesickness.
- Always be encouraging and supportive:
Encourage them to talk about their new experiences and what they’ve been up to, and support them when they share something new they did (especially when it’s something you don’t expect).
- Avoid too many questions:
Too many questions will make your kids feel pressured to respond correctly, or write back more often than they would prefer to.
- Avoid heavy-handed disapproval or reprimands:
This is certainly an unpleasant thing to come across in any letter.
- Let the kids know that they are missed:
However, avoid getting too emotional. Tackle this with a change of topic. For example; persuade the kids to describe the new friends they made at camp. This will take the focus away from the emotional attachment which the word “missing” brings.
Children love getting letters from home when they are at Sugar Bay camp. It makes them feel important and helps them realize just how much they are loved, overall, building up their confidence and courage to make the most out of their week away from home. Letters are also often a sentimental item that most kids will keep forever. Therefore, Sugar Bay has a dedicated email address which parents can use for these letters when their children are at camp.
Take the time to hand-write a beautiful, meaningful letter or have a supportive conversation using the eight great tips above; because in this case, words speak louder than actions.