I want my 9 year old son to try some camps this summer. He has been doing on-line schooling and needs to get back out there and socialize. He tells me he won’t go to camp, so I shouldn’t even bother to sign him up. I don’t want to pay to enroll him if he ends up screaming his head off every morning when we have to get him there. But I also don’t want to give up on the idea just because he is stubborn. I think he would like if it he gave it a try and frankly, for my own sanity, I’d like to have the house to myself for few hours!!! What would you do?
Dear What Would You Do?
You are right, in that you can’t force a child to do anything they don’t want to do. Even if you got him there, he could behave in such a way that they call you to pick him up. The question here is how do we win his co-operation? How do we make him more interested in pursuing this option, even with his hesitancy?
- Find out what exactly it is about camp that makes him so bent on avoiding it? Is it all camps? Over-night camps? Co-ed camps? Competitive Sports camps? Camps you have to get on a bus to get to? Let’s try to dig until we get to the heart of the issue. It would be terrible to miss out on say, swim camp because you were afraid of having to put on your bathing suit in front of others, when a simple solution would be to wear your bathing suit under your clothes.
- Find a friend. Does he have a buddy that is going to a camp? Often the biggest fear is not knowing anyone.
- Preview the camp. Fear of the unknown can be enough to have an anxious child say “no” to anything new and novel. See if you can tour the camp, or watch on-line videos of the camp so he can a sense of what exactly happens at the camp.
- Find the “hook” of his interest. There are camps for circus stunts, photography, stand-up comedy, coding, cooking and more. Sometimes we just haven’t haven’t found something they truly are excited about. Or at least excited enough to over come their fears or inhibitions.
- Find out the camps cancellation and drop out policies for re-imbursement. It may still be worth it to invest a bit of money with the hopes that you’ll get him to go this year!
- If all else fails – drop it. There is always next year, and invest your time and energy into find some alternative that gets him out of the house and socializing. Might be a good summer to go hang out with the cousins!