If you have decided that summer camp makes sense for your family, here are some tips to set your kids up for success:
- Decide your expectations and state them clearly to your child. If you don’t care whether he goes for one day and then skips the rest, that’s fine. If your plan is for him to attend every day, make that very clear and follow through.
- Be sure to read the instructions ahead of time and work with your child to be sure she has everything she needs.
- If your child can see the location ahead of time, or look at pictures online, it may help him feel more comfortable. Discussing the schedule will also help him feel more in control of the situation.
- Nerves are normal. Empathise and teach some strategies for dealing with the feelings. ‘Sounds like you feel a bit nervous—that’s a normal feeling when you are doing something new. Let’s help you to find your courage so that you know how to handle that nervous feeling.’ (Be sure she knows what to say if she has questions and who she can ask; Be sure that she knows her phone number or that it is written somewhere if she needs help; She might imagine that she is a brave character facing this situation.)
- Check your own feelings: if you are concerned, be sure that the camp is safe and has a good reputation. Ask questions to feel comfortable and then express your confidence to your kids and your belief that they are capable. Plan your drop-off routine on the first day so that everyone is set up for success. Plan a quick hug and know your ‘exit line’: I’ll be back at 3 pm and look forward to hearing about your exciting first day. I know you can do this!’ Then LEAVE.
Julie Freedman Smith and Gail Bell provide tools for real life parenting through their company, Parenting Power™. Using over 40 years of combined experience, they work with parents across the country through telephone coaching and teleconferences to ease the stress and guilt of parents while providing practical solutions to everyday parenting challenges. Visit www.parentingpower.ca
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