Summer Camps and dealing with separation anxiety with young children

With summer right around the corner, you might have enrolled your child in several different camps this season. While you might be worried about coordinating pick-ups and drop-offs, your child will be exposed to new environments, caregivers and friends, all of which can sometimes be intimidating for young children and even older ones. Children go through feelings of separation anxiety for different reasons, but on a basic level, they believe their survival is dependent on having a primary caregiver close by.

Experts say that instead of sneaking off, which a young child can interpret as leaving forever, be sure to say goodbye, but keep the departure simple and short. Try to convey that the time apart is temporary and is not a cause for alarm. Mommy or Daddy will ALWAYS come back. Try talking your child through the process of leaving; tell him/her that you love them and who will be picking them up from camp. If it helps, ask the camp program if it’s OK for your child to bring his/her favorite stuffed animal as a soother to camp. Also keeping a regular routine can help children develop a feeling of control over daily situations. You might say, “See you later, alligator” or share a secret handshake or a nose rub as a clear and consistent indicator of your departure.

  1. Remember to keep your goodbyes short:  If you act anxious, or keep returning for another hug, she/he will think there is something to worry about.
  2. Match your body language to your words: Your child can sense your confidence as you walk out the door. Even if you’re faking it, your child will not know. All they’ll see is that you’re leaving them with someone you trust.
  3. Do not sneak out: It’s common to try and sneak out, but keep in mind that it’s sending the wrong message to your child. They see it as a break of trust and being tricked. Always ask your camp staff to help you redirect your child’s attention to a fun game, book or toys that the other children might be engaged in and then say your quick good bye.
  4. Get your child adequate sleep and a good breakfast: It is common to not follow normal routines over school breaks. After all it is time off from being rushed and daily pressure. However, please keep in mind that adequate sleep and a full belly plays a big role in general outlook, moral and attitude. Children thrive on consistency and routine. If your child is not getting to bed on time and then being rushed in the morning and skipping breakfast, they will naturally be stressed and upset leading to more issues at drop –off. Further, try to avoid over processed sugary foods that will cause them to crash and have meltdowns.

At La Dee Da, we pride ourselves in our family friendly, homelike atmosphere perfect for families with young children. Our camp programs are designed for children 3 years to 10 years of ages. We treat every child as if they were one of our own!

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