If your child feels nervous about leaving home for summer activities, try some of these tips to ease her mind.
“Being nervous about a new situation is normal, but most kids will be able to cope with it,” says Catherine Hutter, PhD, a child psychologist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “However, if your child is having an especially hard time leaving and can’t be distracted, he may have anxiety.”
Hutter recommends giving children the chance to help choose summer camps and programs so they feel involved. She also suggests trying day camps, weekend getaways or sleepovers at a friend or family member’s house to adjust to being away from home. If your child has a favorite toy or object from home, ask her if it would help to bring it with her.
“Some parents may think accommodation will help their child, but it may not always be the best choice for anxiety,” she says. “A better strategy is to let kids experience things that are different or difficult so they can learn the skills to do new things.”
Finally, when you leave, Hutter recommends making goodbyes “short and sweet” so as not to prolong children’s feelings of anxiety.
“Don’t make a big deal about the fact that you’re leaving,” she says. “Hug and kiss them and tell them when you’ll be back.” Do you have questions about childhood anxiety?
Our Mom Docs offer more information at ChildrensMD.org/SeparationAnxiety.