Preparing for Sleepaway Camp

Page 3

  • Teach your child how to handle clothes and toiletries. Explain what to do with dirty clothes (keep them separate so they can be laundered) and wet ones (hang them up to dry rather than tucking them in with other clothes). Show him how to keep toothpaste tidy and carry toiletries in a bucket to the bathroom.
  • Discuss how you'll communicate when your child is away. Camps have various philosophies on phone calls -- some discourage it; some allow calls only at certain times of day. Come up with alternate plans with your child, such as e-mail or letter writing, and be sure to give your little one a supply of stationery and stamps. Talking about the format and frequency of contact reduces the possibility of bruised feelings and disappointment later on, explains Dr. Muchnick.
  • Consider writing a letter in advance that you slip into your child's trunk, or mail one that will be waiting for her when she arrives. "This letter becomes a sort of transitional object. It reminds her of the connection with Mom and Dad and makes her feel more at ease," Dr. Muchnick says. A family photo can also help.

Whatever you do, says Coutellier, don't tell your child how much you'll miss her. Though parents often have just as much trouble with the separation as kids do, you'll only make the situation more difficult by expressing this. Instead, she suggests, it's better to say, "We're excited for you and all that you'll get to do."

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