How to help an anxious kid to look forward to summer camp

Summer camp isn’t for parents, it’s for kids – and the experience is so grand that there are hardly words to describe it. Youngsters stay physically and socially active, they learn how to have fun, and, most importantly, become more emotionally confident. You can send your kid to summer camp and trust organizers with your loved one. Large, established organizations follow proper health protocols, so both counselors and campers are safe. Youngsters are outside, every day and, as we all know, the coronavirus doesn’t spread outside. However, summer camps are still committed to social distancing and wearing face masks to avoid mistakes. 

One of the issues you’ll hear about from other parents has to do with anxiety. To be more precise, many kids are apprehensive about attending a sleepaway camp. They experience a mixture of excitement and nervousness. The problem is that anxiety can get into the way of what is meant to be fun and formative. Amid shopping for supplies, labeling clothes, and preparing for camp travel, you barely have time to think about your kid’s attitude about being away, much less discuss it with them. But you have to make an effort. Perhaps these tips will come in handy. 

Get your kid involved in picking the summer camp

Participating in decision-making is important for children because it gives them the chance to voice their thoughts, learn new skills, and have a good time. The biggest mistake you can make when choosing summer camp is not involving your kid in the decision-making process. If you want to ensure engagement, make the big decision together. Let your offspring choose the summer camp so that they become familiar with the environment and learn more about the activities. Let them know that their input is invaluable and they greatly contribute to the outcome – that is, the final decision.

Maybe your kid wants to go to summer day camp. Day camps, commonly referred to as summer camps in some areas, organize activities such as sports, crafts, swimming, computers, and so on. The camp can be booked by the day or week, depending on the institution that is organizing it. If your child would rather go to day camp, you must respect their decision. For a youngster to make their own decision, it must be an informed decision. Talk the issue through with your loved one and remind them that you have faith in their decision. If your child doesn’t want to make their own decisions, encourage them to practice. 

The buddy system: Send your kid to summer camp with a friend

Friendships are helpful in developing social and emotional skills, not to mention increasing a sense of belonging and decreasing stress. Perhaps your kid will feel more comfortable about going to camp if their friends are going too. At times, children need their friends more than their parents. Letting go is indeed difficult, but the most important thing right now is the mental health of your loved one. Being among peers allows your kid handle stress better, navigating the ups and downs of life. It probably won’t be difficult to convince your child’s friends to come along. 

Having a friend or a cousin at summer camp can make a world of a difference. It helps to have a familiar face. As a parent, you have reassurance that your kid knows someone and they’re not alone. Friends from home who go to camp together share a common experience, so they have something to talk about all year round. It builds rapport. When figuring out whether or not you should send your kid to summer camp with a buddy, take into account their social skills and reach out to the camp director. Camp directors have experience in terms of helping youngsters adjust, with or without friends. 

Make your kid reassess their anxious thinking

The problem with thinking and acting as if there is any danger when that’s clearly not the case is that your kid is unnecessarily anxious. Help them create a list of negative thoughts and challenge your child to examine the evidence behind their anxious thoughts. This way, your loved one will learn to deal with everything that crosses their mind. Talk should be accompanied by kindness and compassion. When you’re not there to offer encouraging words, your kid can reassure themselves. Your child will be able to come up with solutions on their own, which will make them feel more comfortable. 

Parents ought to promote a growth mindset to help children that struggle with anxiety. Let your kid take small chances and encourage them to make mistakes. Most importantly, they should listen to their inner voice. Too much noise can create confusion and make it difficult, if not impossible to follow through on what the inner voice tells us to do. Therefore, your child should pay attention to the first answer. They won’t be able to name certain feelings, so explain that everything will be okay. Needless to say, change doesn’t happen overnight. 

Keep the goodbye short 

If you want to make saying goodbye hurt a little less, keep things short. Goodbyes should always be short because they evoke feelings of sadness, grief, and remorse. The experience might seem like a mini death to your child. Tough as it may be to see your kid crying, walk away. It’s the best strategy. Most importantly, you have to be aware of your own emotions. Youngsters sense and react to their parents’ feelings, meaning that they pick up on emotional cues. Put on an upbeat face and reassure your loved one that everything is just fine. 

When it comes to dropping your child off to summer camp, it’s worthwhile to prepare in advance. This way, you’ll minimize nerves, not to mention that it helps your kid get accustomed to the camp environment. Make sure to arrive in the requested window and not earlier. The staff are busy getting everything ready for arrival, so they might not be ready. Think about what impression that could make on your child.