21 answers

Should I Let My Son "Drop Out" of Camp?

Hi Moms,
I am the mother of a 5 year old son who has always had a bit of an issue with socializing with other kids. He is on the shy side and has a difficult time making new friends. I am a SAHM, but have had him in clubs, groups, classes and so forth since he was 2. He did well this past year in Prek and made a few good friends (they initiated the relationship). I now have him in summer camp 3 days a week and he is not doing so well there. He says he does not like it and does not play with or speak to the other kids. Each day when I pick him up, he tells me that he tried hard to hold it in, but ended up crying during the day b/c he wanted to go home. This shocked me b/c he never cried when he was in nursery school or prek.
It breaks my heart every day when I drop him off and I really want to stop sending him. I am concerned, however, that by allowing him to "drop out" I am sending a message that if he does not like something or if something makes him uncomfortable, he can give up. On the other hand, camp is supposed to be fun. Why make him go (and pay good money) for something that he is not enjoying? My husband says he should "suck it up" and stick it out. What do you moms think?

I appreciate your advice and suggestions!!

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What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I would talk to him to find out exactly what is bothering him, and if you can't seem to help him find a workable solution, I would let him drop out, and have a conversation with him about why he'll stop going to camp. He is only 5; why have him live with anxiety that is really unnecessary? I think it just makes a more anxious kid. Do we finish everything we start? Many people can say that they haven't finished something at least once, and that they're OK (i.e. not "wimps").

1 mom found this helpful

E.,
He will have other days to learn how not to quit. It is my thought that if he is unhappy, it would be great that he learns that you will be supportive of finding out WHY he is unhappy, and learning to either overcome it, or step back until he is more comfortable.

Good luck,
M.

More Answers

My vote is to drop out of this camp and use the money doing things with him that he enjoys.
He needs to experience a happy childhood to balance out all the sucking up he'll have to do in the world during his life time....he's got plenty of time to learn how to deal with that sort of thing. It doesn't come from force, it comes from maturity and understanding what ones choices and options are.
As he develops different interests and gets involved with them, he'll meet other children with the same interests.... there are plenty of specialty camps that might interest him when he is older that he might really enjoy as well...
However, make sure he does have play dates with others his own age. Try to get him together more often with the children who have already befriended him...he'll learn more about developing friendships through them. Shyness isn't a bad thing...It might take him longer to make friendships but he'll probably pick them out more carefully as he is growing up.

1 mom found this helpful

You mention that "you have him in..." the groups and clubs. The committment issue referenced in several responses is irrelevant if he did not insist on this camp. We has this situation with our 6 yr old who is also shy. I found out from observing and conversations that the program had little structure and some really boisterous kids.

1 mom found this helpful

I would talk to him to find out exactly what is bothering him, and if you can't seem to help him find a workable solution, I would let him drop out, and have a conversation with him about why he'll stop going to camp. He is only 5; why have him live with anxiety that is really unnecessary? I think it just makes a more anxious kid. Do we finish everything we start? Many people can say that they haven't finished something at least once, and that they're OK (i.e. not "wimps").

1 mom found this helpful

I agree with your husband. By letting him "quit" your sending the message that if you can't do it just stop. Rather then him trying he will know that he can just walk away. Maybe talk to the cousellors and see if they can get another kid to include him in games and such. Or maybe try to help him "act out" how he would talk to another child by pretending with him and staging with him what to say. If you give him those kinds of lessons it may help to boost his self-esteem and prove to himself that he can do it. I'd sit down with him at night and ask him "so is there any other boys you think you'd like to play with at camp?" "How do you think you'd talk to them?" And if he doesn't know, show him. Maybe try this for several days. He could even start by asking someone at the craft table to "pass the glue", or complement them on their craft project. I'd make him stick it out. These are skills he needs to learn. Try as we might, but your not always going to be there to hold his hand. It may help to teach your son the skills he needs to make friends. Just like you'd teach him to tie his shoes.

I would say keep sending him. That's a huge part of the problem with our world these days, the kids are ruling US. I remember when my parents used to make me stick things out because I signed up for them and made a commitment, and would not allow me to quit and I'm thankful for that today. Granted, your child is only 5, but it's a good age to start instilling good commitment ethics.

Try to get him to open up about what makes him so sad, and help him overcome it. If he's just having a hard time being social, then he needs to keep going even though it's heartbreaking for you. It certainly won't get any better by him staying home. Kids are tough, he'll survive.

Just my 2 cents.
L.

Hi E.
If he has always done fairly well after arriving places you left him. What is his problem now? Are the kids older, younger? Are any of his old friends from school there? Do all the other kids know each other and leave him out? Does the adult make the kids comfortable? or uncomfortable? What has happened to cause this problem? Is the day too long comparing it to PreK?
You say that he doesn't talk to kids, but what does the adult say? Does he think you are missing him? or maybe wants him to miss you?
My advise, put on your happiest face, saying he is going to have a great time, and you are going to be (cleaning the house or anything he hates doing) til he gets home. Send him off with joy in your heart. Unless you have reason to believe there is a problem, then pull him because of the problem not because of his behavior. You husband doesn't want him to cry over everything, and that does make some sense. Kids are usually proud of themselves for achieving what they didn't think they could. If the day is longer perhaps you could pick him up early. Always I had to drop mine off early so that the kids joined them instead of running in late to have all the kids already partnered up, and that too worked well.
God bless you
K. SAHM married 38 years -- adult children 38,33, and twins 19

I have been there all too often. There is something in particular that is the issue. It took me forever to find out things like it was lunch becasue he was too shy to ask for help opening an item or swim because when he got re dressed his sock was scrunched. or it may be particular child or activity that causes him anxiety. One child hated camp later found out due to swim , they stuck it out and the following year she loves it! I would not quit but keep trying to figure out what it is and have the camp and counselors work with you. It really is more specific than just camp.

Hi E., I don't know that a five year old needs to "suck it up" for an optional activity that is supposed to be fun. Have you spoken with the camp director or counsellors? If your child is crying everyday, someone should have let you know this (other than your child). They really should be doing something to assist a child who is not having a good time there. I would speak with the director (and his counselors, if they are at least college age). Rather than giving the message of, if something isn't perfect you can drop out, give the message of, if something isn't great, we will try to help make it better for you.
Good luck

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