Miserable at camp

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Miserable at camp

The question to bring a child home who is really experiencing a lot of misery and unhappiness at camp is something that all parents are going to struggle with. Even before sending that child off to camp, parents need to consider if that child is a good fit for the camp. Once that child is there, you want to talk to the child to find out what's going on and if there are specific things that are making the child unhappy. Homesickness is not, at all, unusual for kids at camp; particularly, in the early stages. Kids may call home with these non-specific, ambiguous complaints of just feeling lonely or not feeling happy at the camp. One method to deal with that issue is just having the child wait a day or two, so the parent can tell the child, "Let's talk in another day or two days, and we'll talk about this and make a decision at that point." A lot of times, by having that time interval, the child starts to adjust to the camp and feels really happy. By the time you talk to them again -- or may not even need to talk to them again -- they are assimilated well. For those kids that are continuing to be unhappy, parents should just trust their instincts. They know their child and they are able to determine whether or not this will become a really difficult experience for the child to get past. If they believe that is, then really, they need to go ahead and bring them home.

View Peter Stavinoha, PhD's video on Miserable at camp...


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Peter Stavinoha, PhD


Peter L. Stavinoha, PhD, ABPP, is a board certified clinical neuropsychologist in Dallas, Texas.  He directs the Neuropsychology Service at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas and he is Professor in Psychology/Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He was named Distinguished Psychologist for 2005 by the Dallas Psychological Association. Dr. Stavinoha specializes in the cognitive, behavioral, and emotional aspects of developmental disabilities and acquired brain injury in children. As a general parenting expert, he is regularly interviewed in the media, Dallas morning television, Parents and Parenting Magazines, and numerous parenting blogs. Together with Sara Bridget Au, he is co-author of Stress-Free Potty Training. He has also authored several chapters in scholarly texts on subjects ranging from pediatric concussion to brain tumors in children. Dr. Stavinoha received a BA in Psychology from the University of Notre Dame and a PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Stavinoha completed a residency in Clinical Neuropsychology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and is a member of the American Psychological Association, the International Neuropsychological Society, and the National Academy of Neuropsychology. Dr. Stavinoha has a 16-year old son named Joe.

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