Being away at camp isn't the only time that children can get homesick. Overnight visits to relatives and friends can also be a challenge, especially for young children. Here are some tips to help your children handle homesickness no matter where they are.
Whenever your kids leave home, make sure they know when they're coming back, and who's going to be taking care of them.
Accentuate the positive aspects of their trip, but let kids know that it's okay to have mixed feelings. You can be excited about something and scared about it at the same time.
Stay in touch by letter, phone, or email.
Nighttime is often the hardest for kids away from home. A favorite stuffed animal, blanket, pillow, bedtime story, or music playlist can be a comfort.
For young children, who have trouble conceptualizing time passing, it is helpful to send them with a calendar that allows them to cross off the days that they're away.
Talk with your child's hosts about what he or she likes to eat, and what the routines and rules are in your house around bedtime, meals, snacks, and television. Variations may not be a problem, but this helps children prepare for the similarities and differences.
When children visit relatives or grown-up friends, let them know which adults will be available to listen and help them with problems. Tell kids that you've checked with the adults ahead of time to make sure that this is okay. Sometimes kids aren't ready to leave home. If you sense that your child is really having a terrible time away and it's possible for him or her to come home it's okay to end the visit. Never berate kids or make them feel like a failure for being homesick. When your kids complete a visit away from home successfully, praise them for being able to do it, especially if they were nervous about it before they left.