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Ask A TFI Expert: The Ins & Outs of Summer Camp with Hollie Sobel, PhD

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This July, join us on TFI Talks as we explore all things Summer Vacation with insights from our expert clinicians.

This week’s topic: Summer Camp. For many, the words conjure memories of lake swimming, tent sleeping and star gazing. But while it may lead to lasting memories, summer camp can also lead to stress for both kids and their parents: there’s the planning, the packing and the anxiety that comes with the unknown.

Today on TFI Talks, Family Institute staff therapist Hollie Sobel, PhD gives insights and advice for parents as they prepare their kids and themselves for summer camp.

 


 

There’s an option for everyone.

Today’s summer camps are varied and specific: You can find a camp for just about any specialty and interest your child may have.

For children who are mostly interested in more insular activities such as video games, camps with a gaming focus can be a way to work on social skills while partaking in a personal interest. Adolescents can attend specialty camps in areas of interest (e.g., computers) that can help them gain skills for a future career.

Additionally, for children who struggle with mental health issues, there are camps geared toward specific issues such as speech/language problems or ADHD. These camps are unique in that they give kids the opportunity to socialize and have fun while working on and through some of their issues.  Since all the campers have similar struggles, it can help the children to feel like they fit in.

There are plenty of different ways to work a summer camp into your child’s schedule. Try to find a camp that aligns with your child’s interests and help create opportunities for growth and development.

 

Plan ahead.

Overnight camp provides kids with new and exciting opportunities, but can lead to a lot of anxiety. As the date to head to camp gets closer, parents may notice that their child’s anxiety increases—the closer they get, the less they want to actually go.

However, there are steps parents can take to help ease the transition into overnight camp for their kids. Many camps and camp counselors are used to working with parents and families during the weeks leading up to overnight camp. Reaching out to the camp and working with them ahead of time can help get all necessary details in place, and help ease some of your kids’ anxiety and stress.

 

Keep tabs on the anxiety.

It’s normal to feel some anxiety surrounding summer camp, whether day camp or overnight, as it involves meeting new people and going to new places. However, some kids will need more help with their anxiety than others.

ANXIETY WARNING SIGNS:

  • Difficulty separating from parents under typical circumstances
  • Clingy behaviors
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Somatic complaints (stomach aches, headaches),
  • Irritability
  • Statements refusing to attend the camp

 

Dr. Hollie Sobel provides individual, family, and group psychotherapy.  Dr. Sobel has specialization in using researched-based cognitive-behavioral techniques with children and adolescents to improve mood, decrease levels of anxiety, and enhance functioning across home, school and social settings. She includes children/adolescents and parents in the treatment planning process, as family involvement is often important in reaching treatment goals.

To read Dr. Sobel’s full bio or make an appoint, visit our webpage.

The Family Institute offers a wide variety of affordable counseling care that treats whole individuals and their loved ones throughout the Chicagoland area. Find out more at our website.

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