Summer camp can be such a fun experience for a child. However, some kids may experience some anxiety about summer camp, especially if it is their first time. Luckily, there are some things parents can do to ease this anxiety.
Let them see what the camp is like before it starts- Allow your child to see what the camp is like before it gets started. Show your child the camp’s website and point out things like the camp’s daily activities and profiles of the camp counselors. This way, your child will have an idea of who and what to expect.
Focus on the positive things about camp– By talking to your child about the positive aspects of summer camp, you are helping to build their confidence and get them excited for camp. Some of the positive things you can mention include meeting new people and learning new things.
Prepare for the first day of camp well in advance- Getting your child prepared for camp can be daunting and time-consuming, two things that won’t help a child who is anxious about camp. That is why it is important to start preparing early on, well before the first day of summer camp. Be sure you have the first day of summer camp cleared on your calendar, since this day will be busy with check-ins, along with dozens of other campers/parents. By clearing your calendar for this day, you can avoid the rushing around. The week before camp starts, make sure you have all the needed forms completed and that you have the necessary checklists handy, like what you will need to pack.
Let them bring an item from home– When in the midst of packing for summer camp, have your child choose a comfort item to bring with them to camp. A comfort item can be something that reminds them of home, like a family photo or can be their favorite blanket, pillow or stuffed animal.
Don’t opt for long, drawn-out goodbyes- As a parent, you probably want to hang around camp for a bit to ensure your child will be okay. However, this may not be the best approach for an anxious child. Instead, say your goodbyes, give hugs and kisses and then head out the door. You can always call and check in on your child later in the day. The fact is that most kids will be socializing within 5 minutes after their parents leave.