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Anonymous asks:
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How to prepare second grader for first weeks-long trip away from home?

Our daughter is going to go visit her grandmother, aunt, uncle and cousins this summer for a two-week period. It will be her first time away from mommy and daddy for such a long period of time (she's an only child and only recently began having successful sleepovers with friends). The trip is coming up in a month, and I wonder if there are things we can be doing now to help her prepare?

I used to spend summers away from my parents and remember shedding a few tears here and there. I know that's normal. But are there things we can do to ensure that this doesn't create too much anxiety or sadness for our daughter? She says she wants to go and is ready, but (as is to be expected), I'm worried and want to do what's best for her. Any advice?
In Topics: Parenting / Our Family, Children and stress, Family vacations
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Dr.Susan
May 19, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

First, congratulations on giving your daughter this opportunity to spread her wings and fly. It is so important for children to feel some independence and you are doing it in a wonderful way--having her visit family who will love her and make her feel so welcome! Here are 6 tips to make the separation successful:

1. Have a few more sleepovers over the next few weeks--try and have one or two more more than one night if possible.

2. Before she leaves, don't discuss all the fun, interesting things you will be doing while she is gone. And while she is is away, have very mundane conversations with her spending most of the time talking about what she is doing.

3. Don't tell her how much you will miss her! and while she's away, don't tell her you are missing her.

4. Frequently reaffirm how proud you are of her that she is excited about going.

5. Don't let her back out at the last minute, even if she panics. It is normal to have last minute fears, and the moment of separation is most difficult, but she will feel like she failed if she doesn't go through with it, and she may need your help to get through the hardest part.

6. Allow the family taking care of her to help her if she's homesick. You're not there, so don't be the one to try and make her feel better. Limit your phone calls as much as possible because this will drastically reduce her homesickness.

Good Wishes and Great Parenting,
Dr Susan Bartell
JustAsk Expert
www.drsusanbartell.com
Twitter @drsusanbartell
NEW book “The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask”

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aqblickley
May 12, 2010
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Best Answer!

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from a fellow member
I was one of those children that could never get used to sleepovers, sleep-away camps, or time away from my mom. As far as the anxiety goes, I think it may help that she's going to visit family members on this trip. To ease any concerns, try having a discussion with her about the fact that she might feel sad and homesick time and again, but that it's completely normal to feel that way. If it's possible for her to call long-distance a couple times, it might be nice to schedule a couple phone calls intermittently throughout the trip so that she can look forward to hearing her parents' voices.

Something very special that I'll always remember my mom doing was putting a couple treats in my suitcase. She would wrap up a few little things (like a notebook, little stuffed animal, or my favorite candy) and hide them throughout my packed clothes. She would even mark down what days on the trip I was "allowed" to open up my gifts!

Also, you may consider writing a letter ahead of time to send a couple days before she leaves, so that she has a message to read when she's missing her parents. Periodically, throughout her two-week trip, you could send her a few short letters or cute postcards. Small gestures like this will surely make her smile, and remind her that you're thinking of her!

One last idea: this "Sweet Dreams" pillowcase project might be a fun activity to do together before she leaves. Try altering it by both putting your own special touches on it (like hand prints, poems, or a short message), and she can bring it with her on the trip--as long as it fits in her suitcase or carry-on!
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Additional Answers (1)

socialworker
socialworker writes:
Try using this picture book as a vehicle to discuss her feelings about going away: "Harry the Happy Caterpillar Grows: Helping Children Adjust to Change" with your child.The story centers on Harry,a caterpillar that has a fantastic life full of games, friends, school and leaf eating. He is stunned when, one day at caterpillar school, he learns that he is expected to  build a chrysalis and become a butterfly. Harry vows to remain a caterpillar forever, as his friends build their chrysalises and move on.  Eventually, Harry  learns to accept change as a necessary part of life, and  joins his friends as a butterfly. There are tips in the back of the book to help parents and educators use the story as a vehicle to help kids talk about their feelings about change, and teach them coping strategies to manage their anxiety.
> 60 days ago

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