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How can I help my child not experience homesickness?

Michele Borba
Psychology

Well, finally child development researchers have discovered what parents can do to help our kids feel more confident away from home sweet home and not experience the dreaded homesickness. So, if you’re getting ready to send your child away from for just the night or for a more extended time, here are some research-based pointers to help your child.
Be sure your kid is ready. Is your child sleeping in her own bed through the night or is he or she climbing in with you at two o’clock in the morning? Does she have any problems separating from you when she goes to school, the baby-sitters, or day care? Does your child get along with this kid well enough to spend a whole night together?  If not, forget sending her away to that pricey two-week camp. Chances are she won’t make it through day one.
Find a buddy. Any buddy!!! Research says kids always feel more secure away from home if they know at least one other child. It could be a child he or she knows from her hometown or ask the camp counselor to give you an email address or phone number of a similar-aged child as yours. Maybe they can connect before you drop her off.
Pack a few “security items.” A few packed items can make even the most anxious kid more comfortable. For instance: a flashlight if she fears the dark or staying in a strange house; a granola bar or sandwich (in case they “hate” the meal); a sleeping bag with a rubber sheet tucked inside might help a bed wetter feel more comfortable just in case he has an accident; their own pillow or blanket; even a cell phone for reassurance that she can call you anytime if really needed.
Show off the activities. Other than finding one buddy to “hang with” the next thing researchers say that alleviates homesickness is involvement in an activity (tennis, crafts, kayaking, swimming, beading…anything). If you can get your child excited about one activity he will be more likely to feel a little more comfortable. And he’ll have something to look forward to doing.
Have a positive send-off. Be cheerful and optimistic as you pack and get ready to go. Do wait until your child looks settled. Give her a big hug and kiss. Then leave. But researchers stress to curb homesickness: “Do not linger.”

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Be sure your child is ready. Is your child sleeping in her own bed through the night or is he or she climbing in with you at two o’clock in the morning? Does she have any problems separating from you when she goes to school, the baby-sitters, or day care? Does your child get along with this kid well enough to spend a whole night together?  If not, forget sending her away to that pricey two-week camp. Chances are she won’t make it through day one. 

Find a buddy. Any buddy!!! Kids always feel more secure away from home if they know at least one other child. It could be a child he or she knows from her hometown or ask the camp counselor to give you an email address or phone number of a similar-aged child as yours. Maybe they can connect before you drop her off. 

Pack a few “security items.” A few packed items can make even the most anxious kid more comfortable. For instance: a flashlight if she fears the dark or staying in a strange house; a granola bar or sandwich (in case they “hate” the meal); a sleeping bag with a rubber sheet tucked inside might help a bed wetter feel more comfortable just in case he has an accident; their own pillow or blanket; even a cell phone for reassurance that she can call you anytime if really needed. 

Show off the activities. Other than finding one buddy to “hang with,” the next thing that alleviates homesickness is involvement in an activity (tennis, crafts, kayaking, swimming, beading…anything). If you can get your child excited about one activity he will be more likely to feel a little more comfortable. And he’ll have something to look forward to doing.

Have a positive send-off. Be cheerful and optimistic as you pack and get ready to go. Do wait until your child looks settled. Give her a big hug and kiss. Then leave. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.