Help! My Child Hates Camp

Help! My Child Hates Camp

What’s there not to love about swimming, popsicles, and outdoor activities? A lot. For some. Camp represents freedom from school and an opportunity for long stretches of recreational activity, however for some kids, endless amounts of time outside and engaging in sports-like activities are far from ideal. Some kids do not enjoy camp. If you have a camper writing home about how much he loathes the camp experience, try these tips to encourage some fun.

Tips to Help Your Child Who Hates Camp:

  1. Have your child identify the positives about camp. Although there may be aspects that your childHelp! My Child Hates Camp does not prefer about camp, catch him making these statements so he doesn’t maximize a few small parts and minimize the parts that aren’t so bad or that he does like. If the child likes art, air conditioning, and cook outs, help him identify times within his day or week that reflect those preferred tasks. This will help balance out his perspective.
  2. Identify preferred summer-time tasks. If the child loves to bike ride, go on trips to the zoo, or make s’mores, factor those activities into the summer schedule outside of camp time. Help the child recognize that camp isn’t preventing him from engaging in what he wants but that his needs can still be accommodated. Encourage your child to calmly communicate his needs and work together to problem solve ways to get his needs met, although it might not be in the moment desired.
  3. Incentivize participation. If your child does not like being outside or engaging in physical activity/team sports, set up a system to encourage compliance.
  4. Talk to your child. Before registering for a camp, find out what activities your child is interested in doing and what he would not like. If your child is more into the arts, consider a program for theater, crafts, and dance. If your child prefers physical activity, opt for a sports camp. Touching base about preferences can facilitate open communication of needs and an opportunity to avoid potential problems.

Click here to read our camp survival guide for parents and kids.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!


keep your child organized this summer

Strategies to Keep Your Child Organized This Summer

Spring is in the air and with the warm temperature creeping in, this is a sure sign of one thing to come…school’s out for summer! For many, this is a time of year we look forward to, but it can also be a difficult time for our kiddos with ADHD that benefit from the structure and routine that school provides Monday through Friday. Check out these useful tips to help ward off the “I’m bored” summer bug.

Tips to Keep Your Child Organized This Summer:Keep Your Child Organized This Summer

  1. Keep them happy campers: There are many summer camps out there that range from 1 week to several months long. Figure out what would work best for your family. This allows your child time to burn off some energy and engage in social interactions in a structured, monitored environment. Contact your local YMCA or park district for local camps or classes offered near you.
  2. Keep morning routines the same: When kids know what to expect in the morning, it can help to limit meltdowns.
  3. Post a weekly schedule of activities: These can range from very simple tasks like chores and reading to more involved activities like an outing to the park or museum. Make your child part of this so they feel empowered too! This can also be helpful for your child’s sitter if both parents are working.
  4. Plan for at least one success a day: Let your child pick activities they enjoy doing (or do well J) and give praise for their work. Give them an opportunity to tell you about what they did, too!
  5. Join a sport: Many times a child with ADHD may do better in an individual sport. If you child has a low frustration tolerance, difficulty following directions, or acts before thinking, think about enrolling your kiddo in martial arts, golf or bowling!
  6. Dust off the old board games: Games like checkers, chess and UNO help with executive functioning skills. Uno helps kids practice switching between matching colors versus numbers helps to practice cognitive flexibility. Chess also can provide a platform for teaching impulsive children to slow down and think carefully before making their next move
  7. Cook together:Waiting for instructions (inhibition), trying to remember the directions (working memory) and measuring and counting steps (sustained-attention) all help to develop executive functioning skills.

Have a fun and organized summer!

executive functioning

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

10 Signs at Camp A Child May Need Occupational Therapy

Camp counselors have their work cut out for them- they have to plan daily activities, monitor the safety of the campers, be a cheerleader to encourage the campers throughout the day, and be a referee to teach the campers sportsmanship, turn taking, and following the rules. However, they are also the best advocates for the campers, as they can observe the strengths and weaknesses of each child, and can talk with the campers’ parents about what they notice throughout the day. Below is a list of some of the many signs indicating a child may benefit from working with an occupational therapist:

10 signs at camp that a child can benefit from occupational therapy:

  1. The child has difficulty following directions, either auditory and/or written, in order to engage in an activity. For boys playing tug-a-warexample, first get the soccer ball, and then sit in the grass.
  2. The child shows aversion to different textures (e.g. grass; sunscreen; finger paint; tags in clothing).
  3. The child demonstrates decreased sportsmanship with peers, such as having a hard time losing, or a hard time with turn-taking.
  4. The child demonstrates decreased body awareness, such as being unaware of having personal space with peers (e.g. sitting/standing too closely to others), or moves too quickly or unsafely around his environment (e.g. trips often, bumps into things).
  5. The child demonstrates decreased hand-eye coordination and motor planning compared to same aged peers, such as difficulty with simple ball skills or basic swimming skills.
  6. The child has difficulty transitioning, such as a hard time with drop-off in the morning or with leaving at the end of the day. Similarly, the child may demonstrate difficulty transitioning between activities throughout the day.
  7. The child has decreased postural control, which might be noted by having a hard time maintaining an erect posture during tabletop tasks (e.g. leaning/propping/fidgeting) or has a hard time lying in prone on his belly.
  8. The child demonstrates picky eating during snack time or mealtime (e.g. only eats hot or cold foods; will only eat a few select food choices; only likes salty/sweet).
  9. The child has decreased attention compared to same aged peers, noted by jumping from one activity to the next without spending much time at each activity; or noted by distractibility and looking around to notice others in the room.
  10. The child has difficulty with handwriting/drawing/crafts compared to same aged peers (e.g. does not know how to hold writing utensil correctly; cannot draw a person with correct parts).

If any of the signs above apply to your child, he would definitely benefit from an occupational therapy evaluation and most likely ongoing occupational therapy (OT) sessions. OT sessions can help your child to gain more confidence for his fine motor and gross motor skills, body awareness, and other age appropriate activities. The goal is to help your child to keep up with same aged peers and expectations he is required to meet at home, at school, and within the community, so that he can have the greatest success.

When Your Child Hates Day Camp

As parents, we hope that each of our children is going to hop off the camp bus each afternoon with a smile plastered on their face, eager to tell us about their wonderful day at camp. In reality, this is not always the case. Sometimes, even the simplest issues can make day camp a negative experience for your child. Don’t get discouraged. The first step in turning a negative experience into a positive one is to identify the underlying problem. Listed below are some helpful hints, which just might turn your child’s frown upside down.

5 Ways To Help A Child That Hates Camp:

  1. Stay Calm: As parents, we need to take a deep breath and not make any quick decisions.Sad boy on bus
  2. Remember: You sent your child to camp not only to have fun, but also to increase their independence and allow them an opportunity to grow socially. All of your child’s experiences will add to their social and emotional development.
  3. Get the Scoop: First and foremost, talk to your child; find out if they can tell you what it is about camp they don’t like. See if they can verbalize what specifically is negatively impacting their experience. Identifying the problem is always the first step to finding a solution. After speaking with your child, contact a reliable source at camp that you feel best knows your child. Gather information from them and let them in on what you have learned from your child. If you’re still at a loss as to why your child is so unhappy, ask the adult in charge if they have any ideas of what the problem might be. Try to identify the time of day or activity that might be causing your child to have a negative experience, or any social interactions that might be stressful.
  4. Remove the Roadblocks: You know your child best. If it is an activity that is causing your child to be upset at camp, come up with a solution. If your child is getting upset during swimming, maybe take them to the public pool and help them get comfortable in the water, so that they will be eager to jump into the pool at camp and show off their new skills. If the issue is as simple as a long, hot bus ride at the end of the day, consider meeting the bus at a halfway point to get your child, so that the ride is shortened. If your child is having any type of social issue, try role-playing with them to help increase their confidence.
  5. Turn the experience into a success, not a failure: Though nothing is harder than watching your child be unhappy, it is so important to show your child that you are not only totally supportive, but also that you have confidence in their ability to work through this roadblock. Problem solving is an essential life-long tool. Use these opportunities to help your child develop those skills!


Keep Play Safe and Fun in the Summer Heat and Sun

With the hot and humid Chicago summer we have been having these past few weeks, it is important to be mindful of how well your children’s bodies can handle the heat. Children are still playing outdoor sports and finishing up their leagues before school starts, and some camps may still be in session. Many older children have already begun practice for fall sports. When your children are spending hours outdoors during the day, keep in mind these safety tips:Young T-Ball Player Running

Safety Tips for Sports And Activities in the Heat

  • Drink plenty of fluids at least an hour before vigorous physical activity, as well as during and after the activity. Drinking too much water right before the activity may cause muscle cramps. Drinking very cold beverages may also cause cramps, so let the drink sit out for a few minutes after taking it out from the refrigerator.
  • Sports beverages are great, as they can help replace the salts and minerals lost when sweating.
  • Allow children to pace themselves with physical activities. Start out slowly and pick up the pace gradually so as to avoid muscle cramps. Avoid overexertion.
  • Be weary of signs of heat exhaustion (heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, headaches, nausea or vomiting, dizziness and paleness).
  • If possible, stay inside in the midday when the sun is the hottest and strongest, and try to schedule sports activities in the mornings and evenings.
  • Stay in the cool shade as much as possible when outside.
  • Wear sunscreen.

Play outside safely, and have fun!

Day Camp and Overnight Camp: Survival Guide for Parents and Campers

It’s summertime: warm weather, freedom from homework, and great summer camp experiences. Camp is an amazing opportunity for kids to learn independence and responsibility. When we go to “family camp” in the Wisconsin Dells each year, my husband and I challenge our kids and say that camp is about trying new things, even if they seem scary (my almost six year-old tried a zipline for the first time this year).

The Benefits Of Overnight and Day Camp: camp signs

Children meet new friends at camp and learn self-confidence along the way. At overnight camp, they also learn about responsibility and how to take care of themselves! But, summer camp may not be an easy transition for all kids (and their parents).

Avoid Homesickness by Staying Positive and Following Camp Rules.

Parents play an integral part in their child’s adjustment to camp. If parents are anxious about sending kids to camp, kids will pick up on that and they will then feel anxious.

Some Camp DOs and DON’Ts:

  • DO stay positive about camp. Focus on all the incredible experiences your child will have at camp.
  • DO look at the camp website together to see the smiling faces of past campers. Research all the available activities and help your child learn what his day will look like.
  • DO visit the camp together before the first day.
  • DO participate in pre-camp activities offered by the camp to meet other campers. Having a familiar face can make all the difference.
  • DON’T tell your child that you’ll have a difficult time without him being home. This can make your child feel guilty that he is leaving you and that you can’t survive without him.
  • DO allow him to enjoy this amazing experience.
  • DO follow the visitation rules the camp has created, whether it’s day camp or overnight camp. Kids need time to adjust to camp and they do best when they can adjust with their fellow camp friends.
  • DON’T show up at camp unless the camp allows a visitors’ day. When parents arrive while children are trying to adjust, it will inevitably lead to the child wanting to bolt out of the new environment and retreat back to the comforts of home.
  • DON’T tell your child that if she doesn’t like camp, she can call you and you will pick her up. That speaks to your own anxiety about her being away from you at camp. If kids don’t know that leaving is an option, they will learn to acclimate to their new surroundings and be able to fully enjoy themselves.
  • DO make sure that a letter (or email, if allowed) arrives when your child arrives at overnight camp. This lets your child know that you are thinking about him. But, make sure to stay positive in your letter. Ask questions about the kids in your child’s cabin, favorite activities, and what he is excited to try at camp.
  • DO talk with other parents about their experiences and how they survived (the kids will be fine).