Goodbye without tears

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Recently we signed up our daughter for summer camp. I was a stay at home mom for more than a year before I went back to work, so for us to be sending her to camp this summer is quite a milestone.  We heard before that some children suffer from anxiety and they have terrible tamper tantrums, we just never thought our daughter would be one of them.

It was quite a scene. We told her for about three days before she was going to camp that she was going to play with kids, that she was going to have a "teacher" and she was going to have lots of fun. We even bought her a backpack and she was quite excited to sport the thing around. But nothing prepared us for a complete showdown as we were dropping her off at camp.

From her running after us, crawling desperately on the floor, grasping on the bars of the little gate as one of her newly met teachers is grabbing her by the legs to not let her escape. To tear and an incredible scream for "mom" and "dad" as if we were the most cruel people in the world leaving her behind. It was not pretty.

But we learned a few lessons already that I would like to share with you all and might help other moms as they are preparing to drop off their children for the first time at camp, daycare, school or any other child care.

  1. Be Consistent:
    • Some parents see their child having a attack and thinking it will traumatize the kid. With that they decide it's not the time to enroll their kids yet, and take the children away from the actives. Giving up should not be an option, and usually children stop crying within a minute after the parents leave.
  2. Get the Teacher involved:
    • Introduce your child to the teacher. She is a stranger, but the sooner he gets to know her, the fast will the adaptation be. The best thing I heard was one of the teachers at my daughter's camp telling how happy she was that Sophia allowed her give her hugs. It is a sign of trust.
  3. Prepare a Comfort Object: 
    • Sophia had a very hard time letting go of her fancy backpack. She wanted to carry it around and was holding on to it as a pitbull and would not let it go. It went on for a week, and then we finally gave her a mini McDonalds Happy Meal size doll to take along. It was pretty simple and she forgot about her backpack.
  4. Don't Sneak Away:
    • Explain you have to go work (or school, or workout, whatever you are going to do). Doesn't matter how young your child is. They will associate your words with what's happening, and will know you will be back. They need to know you are leaving and not feel as your abandoning them.
  5. Avoid Comparing Your Child to Others:
    • Don't ever say "Jack isn't crying" or "Bella doesn't throw her toys around", your child is unique, comparing will make your child believe in himself less. It's not good for their self-esteem and you should be the role model for your child right now. Not other random kid, that will most likely eat the crayon soon.
  6. Resist Surprise Visits:
    • Your child is happy playing with other kids. If there are problems the school will call you. You stopping by to surprise your child will only bring distraction from what's going on, and the feeling that it's time to go home. Your child loves you, there's no reason why your child would choose school over you, so don't make it harder than should be.
  7. Give Yourself a Pep Talk:
    • It's ok to let it go sometimes. Your child needs to grow and your are not a bad parent because you turned your back while your child was screaming your head off for being left at a place where he or she will be able to play with other kids the same age for the next few hours, with new toys and get to be social. It will be fine.
Do you have more tips to ad on to the list? Feel free to comment.

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