By Daniel Sheras, Psy.D.

Q: My young child is going to day camp for the first time this summer. She tends to be shy and reserved in new situations. How can we help her adjust to this new environment and help her gain self-confidence?

A: This is an important issue that parents face and one that can cause some anxiety. Young children really do benefit from opportunities to have new stimulating experiences, learn new skills, and make new friends during the summer months, and day camps are really great opportunities for them do this. While no parent can be 100-percent sure that his or her child will love their first camp experience, there are a few tips that parents can follow to ease their child’s transition to camp and increase the chances that they will find it meaningful and fun!

Other General Summer Transition Tips

The change in structure from school to summer can be difficult for some children and parents. Since there is often less structure at home than there is at school, increased structure at home may need to be introduced so that children remain productive, stimulated, and active. In order to set the tone for the summer, parents should clarify the “rules.” For example, what chores are your children expected to do each day? What will their schedules look like? Also, you will want to build in time for positive scholastic activities such as reading (which is often required by schools during the summer months.) Therefore, it is helpful to outline the times that your child needs to work on these activities. Scheduling camps and other activities for them is a great way to increase the structure of the summer months as well. Parents will still want to allow a good deal of free or relaxation time. After all, it the summer! So feel free to be more lax about certain issues, such as bedtime, time with friends, video game time, and be sure to schedule plenty of fun family activities. However, by introducing a little structure, parents can make the transitions out of and back into school a little more smooth.


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