Tips for combating 'kid-sickness'

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Child and family experts say it's completely normal to miss your children when they go to camp.

Here are a few tips for dealing with "kid-sickness":

* Remember this is good for your child. While camp is a time for fun, it's also a growing-up experience. They learn to problem-solve and develop social skills. They often come home willing to take on more responsibility.

* Do your homework. Researching the camp -- and understanding more about its staff and inner workings -- will help you cope better.

* Keep communication upbeat. It's fine to say "I miss you." But when writing to your child, avoid saying things like, "The dog misses you, and the house is so empty." Ask about activities at the camp and new friends.

* Keep busy. Your children will have a lot to do while they're away, which helps them with homesickness. Plan some things to do, too. Pick up an old hobby, catch up with an old college roommate or plan a trip you might not take with children.

* Discuss your "kid-sickness" with another adult. It's likely you're not alone. Remind yourself why you sent your child to camp.

* Forget the Internet webcam. Experts say you send the wrong message to your children if you need to constantly monitor them. They need to know that you trust them to make good decisions. By stepping in, you also undermine the camp staff's credibility. Bottom line: If you don't trust the camp, don't send your kid there.

SOURCES: Bob Ditter, child, adolescent and family therapist; American Camp Association

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