Author Dr Barbara Becker Holstein talks about children’s anxieties and how to help

Secret Diary Entry not in The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything).

I just finished reading A Summer Camp Miracle Story. Angela said she loved the book so I borrowed it from her. In the story Jackie goes away to camp and has all sorts of adventures, both bad and good. She wins an award for paddling a canoe the fastest and she makes lots of friends. But something bad happens. She almost drowns in the deep end of the lake. It’s a long story. She gets saved by the senior life guard and has fun at the hospital having her lungs checked out cause she swallowed so much water.

I don’t think I should have read the book. It made me so afraid. I’ve always been a little afraid of swimming in deep water and now I’m really scared. I don’t want to go to the beach this summer. What am I going to do? Kids are supposed to love to go to the beach. Who can I tell that I am pertrified? I don’t want to die that way.

I can’t tell Angela. She’ll think I’m a baby! I can’t tell me mother she will tell me I’m being ridiculous and that I’m a good swimmer.
I can’t tell my dad cause he was so proud of me when I passed the intermedite swimming test.

It’s times like this I don’t know what to do with myself. Can you help me Dear Diary?

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We often forget that kids have lots of fears and concerns. Even something they have appeared to have mastered can worry them again. They get triggered by upsetting information just as we do. The girl was triggered by reading a story where a child almost drowned. Even though the girl in the story was fine, the girl was left with increased anxiety and concern. And to top it off, she didn’t know where to turn.

We have to make sure as parents, teachers, grandparents, etc. that we are there for kids to turn to. We need to be alert to mood changes and/or remarks. Hopefully, the girl will get up her courage and ask the right person, or one of her parents will notice that she looks upset. Our job in real life is not to leave a child to just roam freely with anxiety and concerns. Our job is to pick up on nuances and spend enough time with our kids that we help to quiet the fear.

Being Homesick is Natural

For many kids of all ages summer is a time to venture away from home. For all children there is the first time. This they may have experienced on their first day of school. For some children separation from parents or a house for a few hours is just fine. For other children it is a much greater struggle. Now when summer comes around sending children off for even just a week for what is considered “a taste of sleep away camp” can and should be a great experience. But believe it or not, many children, to a certain degree get home sick.
What is it about the home that makes our children become homesick when they are away from home? Let’s take a look at the lyrics of the song Home from the Musical “The Wiz” and see what Dorothy sang when she was far away from home:
When I think of home I think of a place
Where there’s love overflowing
I wish I was home I wish I was back there
With the things I’ve been knowin’
Wind that makes the tall grass bend into leaning
Suddenly the raindrops that fall they have a meaning
Sprinkling the scene
Makes it all clean
Maybe there’s a chance for me to go back
Now that I have some direction
It would sure be nice to back home
Where there’s love and affection
And just maybe I can convince time to slow up
Giving me enough time in my life to grow up
Time be my friend
Let me start again
Living here in this brand new world might be a fantasy
But it’s taught me to love so it’s real to me
And I’ve learned that we must look inside our hearts to find
A world full of love like yours and mine
Like home
If your child’s been to sleep-away camp before, was their homesickness manageable? If this will be your child’s first overnight camp experience, are you overly concerned about how they will fair?
Before sending your child off to camp there are a few things you can do to help your child beat homesickness
  • Tell your child homesickness is normal, that it means he or she has a home that he or she loves.
  • Empathize with your child’s fears, but do not get infected by them.
  • Express confidence in your child’s resilience and admiration for his or her courage in going to camp.
  • Tell your child you are sure he or she will get help from counselors and friends when needed.
  • And, please, tell your children you want them to have fun. Children need to go off to camp with your blessing, not your anxiety.