PREPARING YOUR KID FOR THEIR FIRST OVERNIGHT
Every parent knows that when their child is first away from home for an extended time, it’s a monumental occasion for both the parent and the child alike. You can do a few things to help your child have a positive experience away from home for an evening, a day, or even a week (like at summer camp), even if he or she is overjoyed about the possibility.
Following the advice of the experts will make both of you more at ease.
What age is the right age?
A kid’s “appropriate age” for their first overnight stay outside the family depends on the child, as it does with many other aspects of child-rearing.
In the end, it’s more about being ready than it is about age.
It’s impossible to generalize about a child’s life because each one is different. An 11-year-old boy who still wets the bed when he is nervous about a sleepover with his best buddy can be just as excited as an eager 5-year-old girl.
In order to be ready, a youngster must have a positive attitude and be able to follow directions in new and unfamiliar environments. In contrast, a kid who is prone to wandering off, disobeying instructions, being shocked by new environments, or not yet able to use coping skills to soothe themselves is probably not ready.
Prepare for their First Night Out on the Town
If you’ve decided that your child is ready to spend their first night away from home, you may ease the transition by preparing ahead of time.
Talk about what you may reasonably expect to happen.
It’s crucial to speak your child through what they can expect while away, whether at a relative’s home, a schoolmate’s house, or a multi-day stay at camp. If your child is going to a sleepover at someone’s house or a family gathering, talk to the host about the plans for the evening and pass that information along to your child.
Talk about the details of what it means to be at camp, from meals to facilities to activities. Your child’s (and your own) mind will be at ease if they know what they’re getting into.
Boundaries are important to teach.
The fear of not being able to protect your child while they are away from home for the first time is one of the most terrifying aspects of this experience. Teaching your child to set and enforce personal boundaries is the next best thing to really being present with them. Additionally, it’s a good idea to come up with contingency plans in case something goes wrong.
Good touch vs. bad touch should be taught to your child by the time he or she becomes four. However, if you aren’t sure how to start the topic, have their pediatrician do it. Just make sure you’re present during the chat so your child understands they can open up about inappropriate touching to you as well.
While away from home, your child should always carry a copy of their identification and contact information, including their name, phone number, and address. Teaching children how to call 911 and explaining why it’s required is also an excellent idea.
Comfort yourself by packing a tangible item.
Having a familiar object to hang on to helps provide a sense of familiarity to your child in an otherwise foreign environment. This might be anything you’d like, from a beloved toy or blanket to family photos.
Normalize Their Uneasy Feelings.
Remember to normalize their fears if you feel your child is ready to spend their first night away from home, but you’re aware they’re feeling anxious because of the novelty of the situation. Keep these in mind.
It’s OK for them to go back.
It’s OK for your child to come back home if they need to or want to if they’re feeling good about their time away from you. The best course of action is to devise a strategy to reassure them that they have a backup plan. The first few minutes after being dropped off might be nerve-wracking, so you may want to come up with a deal to assist them in getting through it.
For both you and your child, spending the first night away from home is an important life experience. Having a strong feeling of self-reliance in your child is one of the most important things you can achieve as a parent.
A child’s social development and a broader perspective on the world can benefit from time spent apart from parents. Finally, it fosters a sense of independence, allowing the individual to build their own experiences without relying on the desires of a caretaker or the other way around.