March 21, 2013

3 Steps to Preventing Homesickness and Bad Behavior at Summer Camp

Many kids get their first taste of independence at summer camp, where there are no parents or teachers constantly looking over their shoulders.  However, becoming home sick and acting out are common when children are first separated from their families and homes.  By doing a few simple things, you can be well on your way to preventing homesickness and bad behavior at summer camp.

1.   Sleep Over With Kids Who Have Experienced Summer Camp

Parents telling their kids about good behavior and homesickness can be helpful, but discussing these issues with peers can give your child a perspective he can more easily relate to.  See if your child has any friends who have already been to summer camp, or even just been away from their families for long periods.  Then, you can talk to their friends’ parents and see if they can host sleep over party where your child can get used to being away from home. Your kid can listen to their friends talk about their personal experiences with managing their behavior when their parents are far away, and how to deal with homesickness.  To give the kids some privacy and make the sleepover more similar to summer camp, your kids may want to sleep out in their back yard.  After listening to their friends’ stories about summer camp, your child may become more excited and less apprehensive about leaving.

2.   Smells Like Home

When kids are extremely active, they tend not to be homesick.  However, at nights during summer camp they can begin to reflect and feel very lonely.  For the month before your child goes to summer camp, wear the same cologne or perfume every day so that your child will begin to associate it with you.  Then, right before they leave for camp, spray a dab of it on their pillow.  You don’t want to spray the case because of allergies and because it will get washed.  By putting it directly on the pillow the smell will stay for a long time without directly contacting their face.

Because their pillow will smell the way they remember their mother or father, it can be a source of comfort when they begin feeling lonely at night.  This can help ensure that they get a good night’s sleep and feel close to their loved ones. 

3.   Matching Robes

While smells can help in preventing homesickness and bad behavior at summer camp, sometimes a more tangible reminder of home is nice too.  There are a variety of bath robes that feature kids’ favorite cartoon, movie, and comic book characters.  Just find one your child enjoys that comes in both kid and adult sizes.  The month leading up to summer camp, you can both wear them around the house.  Then, the night before they leave for camp, you can both wear your matching robes while you spend your time bonding over board games, favorite movies, or just talking. 

Once your child is at summer camp, whenever they start feeling lonely or are considering acting out, they can put on their favorite kids robe and think about how you may be wearing the same outfit back home.  By coupling this with their scented pillow, you can maintain a presence in their life no matter how much distance is between you.

The idea of going to summer camp and spending weeks away from home, friends and family can be daunting to even the bravest kids.  However, the knowledge they gained during their sleepover, and the pillow and robes to remind them of their parents can help in preventing homesickness and bad behavior at summer camp.  This way your kid may have an awesome time, and you can relax knowing they are enjoying themselves.

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