Dealing with Separation Anxiety—for Both Child and Parent
If this is your family’s first experience with day camp, you and your young child both may be feeling anxious in the weeks approaching his or her first day. These feelings for both parent and child are not only completely normal—they’re also very common.
One of the best ways to deal with separation anxiety, for both yourself and your child, is to communicate. By resolving your personal issues surrounding the upcoming change in your lives, you’ll be better prepared to speak with your child about the feelings he or she is experiencing and ways you can make the time spent at day camp as fun and enlightening as possible.
How to Deal with Anxieties Leading Up to Camp
Exercise Ownership Over the Camp Experience
The best thing you can do to cope with the changes that come with the first-time day camp experience is to be prepared. Exercise ownership over the camp experience by making sure your child has everything he or she needs to make the time spent at camp fun and stress free.
Your list-making skills will be put to great use here—keep track of all the supplies you need to gather and the arrangements you’ll need to make prior to your child’s first day at camp. Allow your child to participate in this process by taking them shopping with you and encouraging him or her to choose the supplies. Finally, invest in sticker labels with your child’s name to attach them to all of their belongings to ensure he or she doesn’t lose anything throughout the busy day—they’re durable, customizable, and washable!
Chances are that if you’re feeling anxiety in anticipation of your child’s first day of day camp, you understand what he or she is going through. Even if you’re not, it’s crucial to practice empathy when communicating with your child. Don’t brush his or her concerns away with dismissive reassurances. Instead, let your child know that you understand how he or she is feeling, and that it’s normal to experience anxiety before a big life change like day camp.
Approach Your Child with Goals in Mind
We’ve already highlighted the importance of communication when dealing with separation anxiety in the weeks leading up to the first day of camp, but it’s important to not communicate your anxiety to your child in obvious ways. Especially if your child is young, you must convey your confidence and control over the situation to put him or her at ease during the transition process. Approach your child with goals in mind related to making the camp experience a fun one. Know how you’ll ask your child about his or concerns and how you plan to address them.
Communicate with Others
Whenever possible, bridge communication gaps for your child to put them at ease, especially if he or she is young. If you know who your child’s camp counselor will be, check the camp website to see whether the organization posts staff biographies online that you can share with your child. Then, if you know of any friends attending camp, let your child know who they are to inspire more excitement. If you don't know of any friends attending, talk with your child about making new friends this year at summer camp.
If possible, consider visiting the camp grounds with your child prior to his or her first day to feel more familiar and comfortable with the environment. To further encourage your child, review the daily schedule and the activities your child will participate in at camp.
The Oasis Experience
At Oasis, we’re dedicated to making your child’s first experience at day camp a fantastic one. Contact us today for more information about our day camps. We can’t wait to hear from you!
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