Is your child extremely shy, but still wants to go away to summer camp?
Are you steering your child toward spending time at a summer camp to help them ease their anxiety and shyness?
For some children, shyness is a trait they’ll grow out of. Others may grow up to become shy adults. Either way, you should encourage your child to engage with other children and adults and help them become a little bit more social in anticipation for summer camp.
Let your child know that you don’t expect them to get voted Most Talkative at the end of the summer, or go out for the lead in the camp play. But doing a few activities with them before they go away to summer camp will definitely help them feel more comfortable.
Read on for tips and tricks on how to prepare a shy child for sleepaway camp.
1. Talk to Your Child About Their Fears About Camp
A shy child will likely open up to you or their other parent about their fears and what they’re afraid of when it comes to summer camp. Or, they may be more likely to open up to an older cousin or sibling.
It doesn’t matter who your child opens up to, as long as they can articulate what they may feel nervous about in terms of summer camp.
Are they scared of all of the new people? Are they scared of being away from you? If so, listen to that fear and let them know that it’s valid to feel the way they do. But, emphasize that facing their fears will be worth it in the end, as they’ll have an excellent time at camp.
2. Send Your Child to Summer Camp with a Sibling, Friend or Cousin
While some schools and camps may discourage siblings, friends or cousins being in the same cabin or classes, going to camp with someone they already know is a great way to help your child feel relaxed at the beginning of camp.
You may speak to the summer camp about your child’s shyness, and let them know that the other child may help them feel more confident. For some summer camps, they may feel placing children who know one another in the same cabin can be a hindrance to getting to know other children. While you’ll need to abide by the camp’s rules, just knowing there is someone your child knows from outside of camp may help them feel more secure.
3. Bring Comfort Items
If your child has a blanket, a pair of lucky socks or even a favorite stuffed animal, allow your child to bring that with them to summer camp. You’ll want your child to feel at least a sense of security while they’re away from home, and these objects may help your child feel that way.
Let your child’s counselor know how much this item means to your child so that they don’t accidentally lose it while they’re not paying attention.
4. Have Sleepovers Prior to Summer Camp
Has your child had a lot of sleepovers? Have they avoided them because they make them feel nervous or they don’t feel secure?
If your child is going to sleepaway camp and hasn’t had a lot of experience with sleepovers, organize a few before your child goes away. The sleepovers may be with someone like a cousin or a friend from school, but make sure your child stays the entire night over at the friend’s house.
If your child is very uncomfortable spending the night away from you, even with someone familiar, you may want to rethink whether sleepaway camp is appropriate for your child.
5. Have Your Child Meet Their Counselor Early
Many camps have an arrival time for all of the campers. This is mostly due to logistics, as it is easier for the camp to organize kids coming into the camp together than it is for kids to trickle in one by one.
But, if your child is especially shy, you may want to express this to the camp director and let them know your child may want to meet their counselor early. If your child meets their camp counselor early, it may make them feel as though they have someone to go to if their anxiety or shyness becomes too much.
Feeling as though the counselor is familiar will also help your child adjust a little bit more easily.
6. Focus on the Fun Things Your Child Will Do at Camp
Is your child looking forward to swimming? Or are they excited about taking a dance class? What about arts and crafts or horseback riding?
No matter what your child is interested in and excited about for summer camp, make sure you emphasize it with your child. This way, the excitement of camp begins to supersede the things they’re not as excited about.
How to Prepare a Shy Child for Sleepaway Camp
When it comes to how to prepare a shy child for sleepaway camp, there is no one-size-fits-all. And as a parent, you’re already well aware that parenting advice can’t be cookie-cutter, as all children are different. But, if you take some of our advice and use it as appropriate for your own child, hopefully, they’ll feel even more confident about tackling sleepaway camp this summer.
Remember, sleepaway camp can be overwhelming for the first time, even for an outgoing child, so don’t be too hard on yourself or your little one.
If you’d like to learn more about sleepaway camps your child will love, click here.