Today’s Buzz was written by Carolyn Meyer-Wartels, LCSW-R, a Psychotherapist and Parent Counselor. Find out more about Carolyn here: www.meyerwartels.com
I will never forget when I first dropped my kids at camp for their first time. For me, it felt like someone was removing a part of my stomach without anesthesia to numb it. It was hard saying goodbye.
For many parents, as the days fast approach for the camp departure, anxiety in the house may emerge. Often at the last moment, we start to question whether or not it was the “right” decision to send our child away, or worry if it will be the “right” camp or the “right” amount of time that our child will be gone. Remember, a lot of thought went into this decision and just like a bride walking down the aisle; it is very normal to feel nervous or have “cold feet”.
Your child is about to embark on an incredibly exciting journey. Their adventure will offer many oportunities such as new friends, amazing experiences, and he or she will also develop a deep sense of self-reliance and confidence that comes from this new found independence. Here are some helpful suggestions to help smooth the transition for the upcoming send-off.
1. Do your “feeling’s homework” – In the days leading up to camp, be sure to have spoken with your child about ALL of their feelings about leaving, both the good ones and more importantly, the scary ones.
2. Do a trouble shoot review – Review with your child the various ways they can handle things if problems emerge, i.e. what can they do if they feel lonely? Rather then feed them the answers; encourage them to figure out the solution.
3. Control yourself – On the day they leave, this is NOT the time to open up the feelings faucet, certainly not your own. It is important that your child feel your strength and confidence about this decision and their ability to master this experience. In other words, hold back the tears.
4. Talk less, act more – If your child seems upset when saying goodbye, let them know you understand but try not to say things that will make them more reactive. If possible, try to keep the feelings brief and do what needs to get done…. let go.
Saying “good-bye” is never easy, yet it is something we need to go through at various stages of life. With that said, as hard as it was to say good-bye to my own children on their first day of camp – it was similar to ripping off a band-aid – it only hurt for the moment. Now, it is six years later and my children are packing and frantically running around getting all of their last minute items together for the summer. They can’t wait for camp to start and I will only get from them the quick “Bye mom, love you”, as they run off to hug their old friends.
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