I have had to take a couple of weeks off from writing my weekly newsletter because I have been traveling and speaking about MommyBurnout. I am happy to be back in the office this week and sharing with you all what is happening in the parenting world, hope this helps!

Is Your Child Ready for Summer Camp?

Abigail and her parents came in this week saying, “we really need to talk about camp.” In the winter, Abigail was begging her mom to go away out of state and her parents were unsure. Abigail is 11-year-old and has never been away from home like this. But after going through some readiness lists and talking about it her mom and dad decided it was okay. This week, now that the time is almost here, everyone in the family is experiencing some anxiety. So, I thought I would have everyone grab a dry erase marker and write on a dry erase board what their fears are (kind of like a data dump).

When they were done I thought, this is manageable, we can get through this with some reassurance… Basically mom feared that Abigail was not going to get on the plane and that there would be a huge crying scene at the airport. She also worried that Abigail would shut down and not make friends at first because she would be homesick. Dad worried that she would not be able to stay away from her phone (they have to hand them in and don’t have access) and that maybe she was just not ready yet to be on her own for two weeks out of state. Abigail herself said that she was worried that she would be homesick but that she also feared not being able to be in touch with her family. She didn’t like the feeling of not being able to check in, especially if she got sick or injured.

So, after they went through all of those fears we came up with a new list. This list was made up of expectations for camp, hopes and goals and then strategies. I will share with you the strategies and tools we agreed on that I think could apply to any kid off to camp!

Strategies for Preparing for Summer Camp:

Strategies for coping with stress and anxiety:

– Distraction

– Compartmentalizing

– Staying present

– Thought-stopping

– Thought-replacing

– Seeking out activities you know you love

– Deep belly breathing

– Visualization

Tools to use along with these strategies:

– Safety objects such as stuffed animals

– Technology- download a calming playlist, movies that make you laugh, audiobooks,

– Meditation Apps- I am a big fan of Headspace and Calm

– Pack ahead of time- to decrease day-before and morning-of stress

– Bring pictures- make a book, print off pictures, make sure phone is updated with happy photos

– Noise-Cancelling Headphones- these are highly relaxing for many people, can be used to just get quiet or along with music for even better sound quality

These stress management strategies and tools can be used in many situations that cause anyone anxiety. So whether your child is getting ready for camp, end of school year, starting middle school next year or taking their driver’s license test you can implement these to teach them healthy coping skills.

About the author

Sheryl Gonzalez Ziegler, Psy.D. holds a Doctorate of Psychology, is an Author, Speaker, National Media Contributor, Non-Profit Board Member, Girl Scouts Leader, Girls on the Run Coach and Advocate for children. She has been treating children and families for over twenty years with areas of expertise in anxiety, trauma, divorce, stress management and depression. Dr. Ziegler is the author of the best selling book, Mommy Burnout: how to reclaim your life and raise healthier children in the process, the winner of Best Parenting Book of 2018 as awarded by International Latino Book Awards.

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