My Child Hates Camp

(3-minute read)


Dear Devora,

My 8th grade daughter is dreading camp. She knows that it is seven weeks away and is counting down anxiously. Some days, she cries herself to sleep, and other days, she is just irritable. Do I just keep her home instead of making her endure the torture?


Dear Dreading Camp,

While it may be tempting to alleviate your daughter’s immediate distress by keeping her home, it’s essential to consider the long-term impact on her social, emotional, and personal development. How will she feel about herself down the road if she couldn’t do all the fun things her friends and classmates enjoyed each summer? Therefore, it’s essential to approach this situation with a balanced perspective that considers both short-term relief and long-term growth opportunities for your child.

What can you do?

Get to understand the source of your daughter’s anxiety about camp. Is it a fear of the unknown, social anxiety, separation anxiety, past rejection by supposed “friends” in camp, being bullied in the past, or something else entirely? Identifying the root cause will help you tailor your approach to supporting her effectively.

Here are some strategies to consider:

1. Together with your child, make a list of all the reasons why she hates camp. When writing the list, accept all reasons and don’t judge or argue about them. For example, if you child says, “I never had fun,” don’t say, “What are you talking about??!! Remember when you called me that you had that mud slide and couldn’t stop laughing as you rolled down the hill drenched in mud??!!”
2. Review the list and see if there are items on the list that can be remedied. For example, if your child had a negative experience with certain bunkmates, find out from the camp how they can ensure that your child will feel safe. Perhaps your child can select which girls to be with, and which girls the camp will ensure will not be in her bunk.
3. If your child has social anxiety or separation anxiety, consider treating it professionally as those are problems that typically do not go away on their own.
4. If your child was bullied, adult intervention is required. Bullying is different from fighting, and children should not be told to figure out how to deal with it themselves.
5. If your child was rejected by peers, find out if it was a one-time occurrence (as in a bullying situation) or if this pattern has been repeating itself. When a child keeps getting rejected, it might be that the child needs to be taught social skills so that she can develop healthy friendships and not be a target for rejection.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to send your daughter to camp or keep her home should be based on what will be most beneficial for her overall well-being.

Not sure how to implement these strategies?

Watch these trainings!

How To Teach Social Skills

How To Help A Child Who Is Being Bullied

Have an accomplishing week!


Dr. Devora

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