Building resilience in homesick children

There are some supportive and nurturing ways to build a child’s security and confidence.

Summer activities are a great opportunity for kids to build relationships, explore interest, strengthen skills and meet new people. Many of these aging activities include overnight stays which can be exciting to some and make others anxious. Individual personalities play a significant role in the emotions children will feel and how they may show those feelings.

Michigan State University Extension recommends supportive and nurturing ways to build a child’s security and confidence:

  1. Anticipation is a huge part of unease – prepare children with pick up and drop off details, a daily schedule, meal details and anything else you can provide them for a better sense of what will be going on.
  2. Follow their lead – if they want to walk away, let them; if they want a hug, embrace them; if they are content, let them be
  3. Lead them – tell him/her you are proud of them for doing something new! Your verbal encouragement will give them confidence. Children need to know that the feelings may come and go, but there are things they can do (snuggle with a pillow, bring a favorite item, look at photos, etc.). Emphasize that the activities they will be involved in will be fun and you look forward to hearing all about their experiences. Your enthusiasm will be contagious!
  4. Celebrate trying new things and all successes – success breeds success and overall confidence. When children learn they can do something they were previously unaware they could they need acknowledgement, recognition plus the chance to practice it again.
  5. Share stories – children love to hear about their parents or loved ones’ experiences and sharing those stories let them know other people have had similar feelings.

Overnight experiences can be difficult not only for children, but also for parents/caregivers. Try to process your own emotions ahead, interacting with your child to focus on the child’s needs and emotions. Constructively you may consider sharing some of your strategies, for instance, “I will miss you too which is why I’ll have your picture with me.” Sharing your plans for while they are gone will allow you both the chance to share experiences when you are together again.