For many people, memories of going away to summer camp are some of the fondest they will ever have. Camp provides the opportunity to make new friends and share new adventures. When your child is going off to camp for the first time, however, fear of separation can make the experience seem dreadful for both parent and child, especially in the case of sleep-away camps.
Paying close attention to your child’s concerns is the first step in alleviating their anxiety. A child’s summer camp separation anxiety can display itself in a number of ways, including:
- Unrealistic fear that someone close to them will be harmed while they are away
- Reluctance to attend the camp
- Persistent avoidance of being left alone
- Nightmares involving themes of separation
- Physical complaints when separated
- Excessive distress when separation is anticipated
Repeated physical complaints can also be a sign of summer camp separation anxiety. These symptoms could be any of the following:
- Stomach problems
- Cold or clammy hands
- Feeling faint
- Being hot or cold
Fortunately, there are plenty of tips to help parents reduce their child’s separation anxiety. Parents are encouraged to:
- Remind their child that everyone gets nervous when they go away to camp, especially if it’s their first time
- Show confidence that they’ll enjoy their time away
- Remind them about other new experiences they’ve overcome in the past
- Find out how the camp deals with homesickness so you can be prepared
- Provide your child with pre-addressed, stamped envelopes, pen, and paper so they can write home whenever they want
- Provide lots of attention in the days preceding the separation
- Make goodbyes short and to the point. Dragging them out can make both parties nervous and delay the possibility of moving past the anxiety.
In most cases, the above steps will go a long way in eliminating or reducing separation anxiety that arises before a sleep-away summer camp. In some situations, however, the anxiety may persist despite all efforts. In this instance, parents are encouraged to seek professional help, especially if the child’s symptoms have begun to interfere with their school performance or friends. For more information on summer camp separation anxiety, contact child anxiety therapist Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-223-6568 today.