3 Ways to Help Raise a Powerful Daughter
- Listen more than you talk
- Encourage her to be direct when she’s angry
- Encourage her to take physical risks
How Much Freedom Should You Give Middle School Kids?
It’s hard to know how much independence to give middle school kids. Because they don’t mature in a linear way—it often feels like two steps forward, one step back—your tween may be perfectly competent at an independent task one day, and a ball of tears the next. Keep trying. Just because your child wasn’t ready on Monday doesn’t mean he won’t be on Friday.
Of course, sometimes your tween is overconfident to a fault. Your daughter promises she won’t lose that phone she’s been begging for, but she can’t even keep track of her homework. Your son thinks you’re crazy for not letting him ride his bike to the store, but you’ve seen him pull out in traffic without looking. Sometimes kids really do rise to the occasion of more independence. But before you test those waters, they ought to be able to demonstrate a proficiency in safety, planning, and emergency response.
For middle school kids, I would worry less about safety from a Law & Order: SVU perspective and more from a practical perspective. Does your kid understand traffic rules? Is he willing to call for help as needed? Does he know how to ask adults for feedback?
In her book Free Range Kids, Lenore Skenazy researched how safe kids really are in the world. Surprisingly, Skenazy discovered that America is no less safe than when we were young. Yes, there are bad people in the world, but the chances of your kid encountering them are incredibly low.
Parents often lament, “I wish I could give my kids the kind of carefree childhood I had. It’s just not as safe as when we were kids.” That’s nostalgia talking, not facts. We hear about rare and terrifying news stories so often, with such drama and repetition, it feels like a less safe world. But the fact is that the chance of your child being abducted by a stranger is 0.00007 percent. Violent crimes, including sex crimes against children, are on a steady decline.
Some of you are thinking, “That’s a low risk. However, I couldn’t live with myself with any chance that my child would be a victim.” Even at such a low rate, you think, it’s not worth the risk. But, as Skenazy points out, kids are in greater danger when we drive them somewhere than when they walk around the mall. I fear most for kids who are swaddled through middle school. They need to experience the thrill or the lessons that come from trying to be independent.
There are lots of reasons older kids need time away from their parents. The tween years are all about developing an identity apart from parents. This is hard to do when you have a set of watchful eyes on you all the time. Too much oversight leads to feeling that your every decision is being evaluated and judged. Have you ever been micromanaged? It makes it hard to be successful. Kids need time apart to figure out who they are when no one is watching. That’s critical to developing a strong sense of self.
Also, independence builds competency. Kids naturally do better at things when they don’t feel parental pressure. Not surprisingly, they become better problem solvers when they practice solving problems. I heard an interesting anecdote from Michael Thompson, a parenting author, who surveyed 500 parents on the proudest moments from their childhood. Everyone answered with a time when their parents weren’t there. Kids need to overcome challenges so that they can feel capable of taking care of themselves. This is what we want, right?
So while there is no magic answer to when and to what degree you should let your middle school kids do things alone, in general, it’s a good idea to begin offering many varied opportunities to try. You know your tween best. If she can make a plan, react responsibly to unexpected changes, and communicate openly with you about her experiences, you’re off to a great start.
What Makes Families Resilient?
Is your family resilient? What are the things you and your family can do to be more resilient? Marianna Pogosyan, Ph.D. shares her expertise and insight in this article from PsychologyToday.com.
Family resilience has been defined as the family’s ability to “withstand and rebound from disruptive life challenges, strengthened and more resourceful” (Walsh, 2011, p 149). From decades of research and clinical experience, Dr. Froma Walsh, one of the leading authorities on family resilience, has identified nine processes around the beliefs, organization, and communication of families that can shape their response to adversity.
Family resilience, as Dr. Walsh points out, is not just about weathering a storm. Rather, it’s about turning adversity into a catalyst for the family’s growth. It’s about enriching relationships and making family members more skilled at coping with future stresses. We all strive for resilience. Who wouldn’t want the ability to meet life’s inevitable challenges with grace? But how are resources for resilience built within a unit of unique individuals, circumstances, and dynamics? With the magic of the small, everyday things, it appears. A conversation here, an activity there. Word by word, bond after bond, families fill their wells with strength and wisdom, hope and creativity. And the reassurance of this common well of reserves becomes a big part of their resilience.
Here is Dr. Walsh in her own words.
1) What has surprised you from your research on resilient families?
Earlier, the idea of strong families involved a set of traits: you either had them or you didn’t. But families come with various values and structures, and what matters are their interactional processes: how they support each other. In my research, I found that there was resilience not only in the “normal” families but also in the families that had gone through hard times. It was never about the “rugged individual” saying “I just did it on my own” and “I had all the ingredients inside of me.” Rather, resilience was more about relational support from others. Another surprise was how adversity itself can turn into an opportunity to become stronger, together. Resilience is something that can be built at any point in the lifecycle, even in the most vulnerable families. As a clinician, it has helped me to see the possibilities for gaining resilience.
2) Is there something that resilient families seem to share?
Most families put the nine processes of resilience together differently and creatively, like recipes. The beliefs or practices can be either skills or ways of thinking and being together that promote adaptation to the situation and enable families to have hope in really dark times. They can also enable family members to take action when they feel stuck or have a positive outlook. Another one is making meaning of what you are going through in a way that facilitates your adaptation. I like the saying Master the art of the possible: understand that there are certain things you can’t change the situation and focus your energy on the things that you can change. There is also transcendence; the idea that there is a larger purpose. There are the family role models, like a grandmother who kept them strong because they knew that it was possible. And in a lot of cases, there was their spirituality. For example, single mothers would say, “I talk to God. He helps our family to get through.”
3) How important is family resilience for the well-being of family members during challenging times?
A basic premise in family systems is: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It isn’t just that you have a strong mother or father who holds everything together. Rather, there has to be a sense of common purpose and mutual interdependency. We are here to support each other and care about each other. When one falls back or needs help, the others will step forward. This way, the resilience of the family unit will trickle down to each individual, because each family member is participating in the resilience. For instance, when a parent starts to over-function and some of the kids end up feeling left behind, research shows that they’ll do much better if they participate. They could draw pictures, sweep up, or help Mom. The key is that everyone plays a part. It’s teamwork. A relational approach of resilience is how can we become strong on our own and build a network around us, that we are not forced to do it on our own.
4) What can families who relocate between cultures learn from your research to better prepare themselves for the stresses of international transitions?
For international adaptation, a lot has to do with openness. It’s easy and comforting to keep to yourself or the expat community. But immersion is important, and so is leaving your comfort zone. Start having conversations with people. Invite them to your home. Share a meal. In other words, go outwards and open your boundaries. It will enrich your experience while enlarging your heart and your mind. But don’t cut yourself from your past. If you were to cut off a plant from its roots and transplant it elsewhere, it will not survive. You have to bring some of its roots with it.
5) How does communication nurture the family’s resilience?
Communication helps family members feel more connected. For instance, children can prepare a meal with their parents when someone comes over. Or parents can take their children when they visit new places. Whatever the activity, parents can reflect on it with their children afterward and make meaning of the occasion by talking about it. Ask questions like, “What was that like for you? What surprised you?” Even collecting keepsakes and exchanging gifts can become practices that strengthen the resilience of the whole family. What parents impart onto their children and the way they carry themselves is so important. In a way, they are conveying a set of attitudes and beliefs to their kids. An attitude might be, “Look, isn’t it interesting?” rather than, “Oh my God, what is that?” If we start with the attitude “I am going to make the best of it!” then the kids will pick up on it.
Also, as part of communication, an important aspect in family resilience is to acknowledge the hardships. You have to sit with family members, comfort them, and acknowledge their feelings. It’s equally important to have joy together. It’s not just problem-solving. It is also finding things to celebrate, finding ways to have fun or to laugh at mistakes. In the end, it’s also about the outlook that we hold as individuals and as families. We can look at adversity and see all the ways that it can run us down. Or we can think of it as something that will transform and empower us.
Many thanks to Froma Walsh for being generous with her time and insights. Froma Walsh, MSW, Ph.D., is Co-Director and Co-Founder of the Chicago Center for Family Health and is the Mose and Sylvia Firestone Professor Emerita in the School of Social Service Administration and Department of Psychiatry, Pritzker School of Medicine, at the University of Chicago. She is a licensed clinical psychologist and an AAMFT approved supervisor. Dr. Walsh is the author of Strengthening Family Resilience (2015, 3rd edition).
References for the Article:
Southwick, S. M., Litz, B. T., Charney, D., & Friedman, M. J. (Eds.). (2011). Resilience and mental health: Challenges across the lifespan. Cambridge University Press.
Walsh, F. (2011). Family resilience: a collaborative approach in response to stressful life challenges. Resilience and mental health: Challenges across the lifespan, 149-161.
Fun Fall Activities for Kids
As the weather gets cooler and the leaves begin to change color, it’s time to start thinking about how you can help your kids get outdoors and take advantage of all that this amazing season has to offer.
Here are 101 fun fall activities for kids:
- Visit an apple orchard.
- Make apple crisp.
- Build a scarecrow stuffed with newspaper.
- Have an apple cider “tea” party.
- Bake apple chips.
- Make an apple stamp.
- Bob for apples.
- Make handprint leaves.
- Jump into a leaf pile.
- Paint wooden crafts.
- Make popcorn balls.
- Create leaf rubbings.
- Stuff leaves into bags that look like pumpkins.
- Decorate stationery with homemade leaf stamps.
- Play I Spy during a nature walk.
- Collect and identify leaves.
- Press leaves into a photo album.
- Visit a zoo.
- Check out a haunted house.
- Make a necklace with Halloween-colored beads.
- Take a hayride.
- Get lost in a corn maze.
- Visit a pick-your-own pumpkin patch.
- Have a pumpkin-carving party.
- Toast the pumpkin seeds from your carved pumpkin.
- Decorate pumpkins with paint, markers or stickers.
- Enter your decorated pumpkin into a local contest, or have your own!
- Roll down hills and listen to crunching leaves beneath you.
- Create a holiday centerpiece out of gourds.
- Bake seasonal cookies.
- Make pumpkin ice cream.
- Visit a park and bring along a tree or bird guidebook.
- Take a family bike ride.
- Collect acorns and paint faces on them.
- Bake pumpkin bars.
- Coordinate family Halloween costumes.
- Decorate your yard with hay bales.
- Arrange artificial autumnal flowers in festive pots.
- Make squirrels out of toilet paper tubes.
- Iron leaves between two sheets of waxed paper and hang them in the window.
- Have a Halloween-themed movie marathon (nothing too scary, of course).
- Make hot chocolate with marshmallows.
- Host a make-your-own-pizza party.
- Go on a color walk, gathering outside “treasures” in yellow, orange, red and brown.
- Have a neighborhood costume parade.
- Attend a locally sponsored Halloween party.
- Play Pin the Stem on the Pumpkin, a festive version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey.
- Make Halloween cards.
- Decorate trick-or-treating bags with spooky faces.
- Dress each other up as toilet paper mummies.
- Play CLR with leftover Halloween candy
- Attend a local football game.
- Play your own game of flag football in the yard.
- Use white tissues, a black marker and rubber bands to make miniature ghosts.
- Play hide-and-seek with glow sticks.
- Set up a fire pit.
- Make s’mores outside.
- Play Ghost in the Graveyard.
- Make caramel apples.
- Host a fall- or Halloween-themed scavenger hunt.
- Visit an indoor water park.
- Make apples out of pipe cleaners.
- Play on indoor trampolines.
- Visit an arboretum.
- Read some of these autumn-themed children’s books
- Play board games.
- Make Crock-Pot applesauce.
- Attend a local harvest festival.
- Visit a farm.
- Make owls out of brown paper lunch bags.
- Attend a parade.
- Take a drive to view the colorful foliage.
- Make owls out of toilet paper rolls.
- Schedule an outdoor family photo shoot.
- Go stargazing.
- Make stamps out of wine corks.
- Draw a tree trunk and use your wine cork stamps to paint leaves.
- Collect pinecones to decorate a mantle or tabletop.
- Plant spring bulbs.
- Make spider decorations using black construction paper and googly eyes.
- Tell stories by the fireplace.
- Trace a tree pattern by placing a piece of paper on the trunk and rubbing a colored pencil over it.
- Use pumpkin-shaped cookie cutters to make festive gelatin.
- Plant an indoor herb garden.
- Play on straw bales.
- Make a classic handprint turkey.
- Build a leaf fort.
- Create pinecone birds using craft feathers and googly eyes.
- Make rice crispy treats with pumpkin puree.
- Visit a children’s museum.
- Create a paper-plate apple.
- Read these children’s books on the harvest and Thanksgiving
- Make chicken soup.
- Put all of your children’s seasonal crafts into a memory book.
- Use tissue paper to create “stained glass” windows in fall shapes.
- Have an apple taste-test.
- Bake a seasonal berry crisp.
- String popcorn and cranberries into garlands for decorating.
- Stop at roadside farm stands to sample local fare.
- Make personalized Thanksgiving place mats for your whole family.
- Create a thankfulness tree for your dining room and fill each leaf with something you feel grateful for.
From fun arts-and-crafts projects to festive outings, this list of 101 fall activities for kids has something for everyone!
Why Do Teenagers Lie? And What’s a Parent to Do?
Of the many battles to contend with when raising teens, lying can be the most frustrating and debilitating for parents. Thoughts swirl in your head, Why do teenagers lie? Will my teenager always be a liar? Where did my teenager learn this dishonest habit? You might also wonder how to stop your teenager from lying, while feeling deeply frustrated that your teenager continues to lie even though you know they’re not telling you the truth.
These feelings are totally normal, but not necessarily helpful when it comes to changing your teenager’s behavior. As difficult as it may seem in the moment, when your teenager lies, it’s a great opportunity for relationship development and for teaching teenagers about integrity.
Why Do Teenagers Lie? It’s Part of Normal Development.
So, why do teenagers lie? Interestingly, teen lying is part of the normal developmental process. At this stage in their lives, teenagers are looking to individuate themselves from you in order to forge a new, adult identity. Sometimes, this process manifests itself through lying, especially when teenagers perceive that their actions are out of step with their parents’ ideals and morals. Specifically, teenagers lie when:
- They don’t want to get into trouble;
- They think they have made you upset;
- They feel like your perception of them has changed; or
- They may be externalizing a deeper, more internal emotional battle
Since there are so many answers to the question Why do teenagers lie, I encourage parents to get curious instead of furious. Lying can feel like a personal attack against all that you have taught your teenager. But, the fact of the matter is this: your teenager is human and sometimes humans make mistakes in their attempts to move forward in life.
When you take the time to understand why your child is lying, or what they are trying to accomplish by lying, you can begin to create a path that guides them to make better decisions. Specifically, you will be teaching your teenager to become aware of his or her internal needs and how to externally express those needs to get them met—without having to drum up false stories.
How to Approach Teen Lying
Here are a few strategies to help your teenager move past lying. In my work with families, I’ve guided parents to do the following when confronted with teenagers and lying:
1. Create a safe space. Before teenagers will tell the truth, they have to know that their voice will be heard and that they will be supported in their attempts to make decisions on their own. Having the space to explore doing things in their own way helps teenagers learn that they don’t have to lie to solve problems, get what they need, or gain more independence.
2. Ask for the truth. No matter how many times you’ve talked about lying in the past, when a new instance of lying arises, it’s time for a refresher course. Explain to your teen what honesty means to you and share with him the reasons why you’d like to know the full story. Also, you can offer alternative ways to convey the truth, such as sending you a text or writing a letter.
3. Show awareness. As you are attempting to get the truth, let your teenager know that you know you are not getting the full story. But do this is a non-judgmental way. For example, you could point out physical observations that you’ve noticed in the past when your teen is not telling the truth, such as talking faster, slower, etc. This works on two levels: it lets your teenager know that you’re aware of who she is, which enhances your relationship, and it lets her know that you are still waiting for the full story.
4. Discuss solutions. This step comes in once your teen has told you the full story and is no longer lying when asked about it. So, you may have to go though steps 1 to 3 a few times before you move onto this step. Once at this step, I encourage you to begin to discuss how your teen can get his needs met next time without lying. Again, give your teenager that safe space to work through issues instead of lying about them. You and your teenager can also work together to come up with consequences for lying the next time.
5. No shame, no insults. I also encourage you to develop a “no shame, no insult” rule about lying in your home. When a teenager worries that he will be insulted, severely punished, or shamed for lying, he will be more likely to continue lying — or, worse develop other dishonest behaviors — to avoid that negative attention. Again, remaining calm and non-judgmental in the face of teen lying is important.
While it may be frustrating to know that your teenager is lying, it’s important to take it in stride. Modeling empathy for your teenager will illustrate that you understand the fear of punishment and embarrassment of getting caught. It’s not about the lie, but what your teenager learns about lying (including how you respond to it) that will continue — or stop — the behavior.
Ways Technology Influences Your Child’s Behavior
At our Midwest summer camp, we minimize electronics during camp sessions, to empower our campers to maximize their social development. A recent blog from the good folks at Intelligence for your Life, underscored how electronics influence children’s behavior. Bullets below, with the whole piece available at this link.
Developmental psychiatrist Dr. Sara Konrath says that kids today consume three times more screen-based media than they did 50 years ago.
They also score 40 percent lower on tests that measure empathy and compassion for others.
Videogames are especially harmful because the on-screen violence desensitizes kids to real-world suffering.
Social media robs kids of the opportunity to learn how to interpret how others feel by using tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language.
Experts recommend no more than two hours a day for school-aged kids. (And zero screen time for children under two years old…)
Make sure your children exercise the social parts of their brain by spending a lot of time interacting with and playing with other kids.
How to Be a Better Parent: 3 Counterintuitive Lessons from Science
At our summer camp near Chicago, we continually try to improve how we as staff and counselors can positively influence our campers. An article from the folks at Barking Up the Wrong Tree offers a few good parental tips. Summary below, with the whole article at the link at the bottom.
1) Peer Pressure Can Be A Good Thing
Myth: Peer pressure is always bad, just leading kids to drinking, drugs and vandalism.
Fact: The same instinct that makes some kids so vulnerable to peer pressure also makes them better students, friends and, eventually, partners.
2) It’s Okay — Even Good — To Fight In Front Of Your Kids
Myth: It’s bad for kids to see their parents fighting.
Fact: It’s good for kids to see parents fight — as long as they also see them resolve the problem. This is how children learn to stand up for themselves while also preserving a relationship.
3) Teens Who Argue Are Good Teens
Myth: Teens who argue are rebellious and need to learn their place.
Fact: Teens need to learn to negotiate and they need to be rewarded for being reasonable. Parents with zero tolerance for “talking back” teach kids that lying is the only way to get what you want.
10 Powerful Things You Can Say To Your Kids
At our Chicago area summer camp, we’re aware of the importance of empowering children. When the Pew Research Center showed parents across America a list of 10 skills and asked, “Which of these skills is most important for a child to get ahead in the world today?”, the winner, by a landslide, was communication. Not only was it chosen as the most important, but it beat out such traditional favorites as reading, writing, teamwork and logic.
Communication for kids starts with their parents and it is important to make sure that our kids have not only a direct line of communication with us, but a healthy one. Listed below are 10 powerful things you can, and should often say to your kid.
Summary below (from the folks at Parenting.com), with the whole article available at this link.
- I like you.
- You’re a fast learner.
- Thank you.
- How about we agree to…
- Tell me more.
- Let’s read.
- We all make mistakes.
- I’m sorry.
- What do you think?
How to Talk to Kids About Scary News
While driving down the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, with a view of the Manhattan skyline gleaming outside the car windows, my 5-year-old daughter suddenly piped up from the backseat, “Did you know people flew planes into the Twin Towers?”
It was like someone had knocked the wind of my chest, and my husband had to tighten his grip on the steering wheel. I collected myself enough to respond as casually as I could, despite reeling on the inside.
“Um, yes,” I said. “How do you know that?”
“We learned about it in school,” my daughter said, matter-of-factly. “It’s really sad.”
“Yes, yes, it is,” I replied.
Up until that point, I had never even considered telling her about Sept. 11. Why would I? Even though we live in New York City, I didn’t think a kindergartner needed to think about something so awful that it took me, an adult, quite some time to wrap my head around—and frankly, sometimes, still have a hard time processing. But on the anniversary of the attack, my daughter’s elementary school had discussed it in the classroom without me realizing it.
At first I was angry they had potentially shattered my little girl’s concept of a world where nothing evil happened, but then, I’ll admit, I was a little relieved. Now I didn’t have to explain it to her. I didn’t have the first clue about how to talk to my daughter about such scary news.
That was about three years ago, and unfortunately, a lot more scary incidents have happened. Try as we might, they’re bound to seep into our homes. Whether it’s a snippet of a news bulletin on the TV or radio, an adult conversation overhead in public, or something that affects people your child knows, you can’t escape it unless you keep your kid in a bubble. Plane crashes, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, police shootings, school shootings, protester riots, child abductions—it’s all so sad and scary, but it’s the world we live in. We have to be able to talk to our kids about it in ways that will help them understand and handle it.
So, what’s the right way to talk to our kids about scary news? I gathered some tips from experts who are part of the Educational Advisory Board for The Goddard School preschool franchise to help me—and you—navigate these conversations. Here’s what they had to say:
1. Figure out the real questions your child has.
“When children hear about scary events in the news, which they inevitably will, they are likely to ask for details, such as: Who died? Did it hurt? Will that happen to me? Why would somebody do that? Where were the police? Were they bad people? Where were the parents? Is this a war, etc.?” says Dr. Kyle Pruett, an expert on children and family relationships and clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine. “Before trying to answer the question, make sure you heard it correctly. Ask the child the question back, with a ‘What do you think?’ tacked on the end, and you’ll get a better idea of what they are worried about.”
Pruett says kids are usually worried about some aspect of their or your personal safety. If so, you then can “offer a specific reassurance,” he says, “such as, ‘We are all fine as always. This happened a long way away’ if that’s true. ‘The police came when the grown-ups called before more people got hurt. We don’t know why someone would do this, but it has never happened there before and probably never will again’ or some [similar] version.”
2. Limit screen time to non-news coverage for young children.
“TV, smartphones and tablets all have the ability to deliver startling images of running, screaming, terrified people that will bring the trauma very close to your child, no matter how far away you may live from the incident,” Dr. Pruett says. “[Tell them,] ‘We’re not watching TV because we want you to hear the story from us and we can help you understand it better.”
3. Keep yourself calm.
“Children are quite sensitive to their parents’ emotions even in good times. In worrisome events, they are especially sensitive,” Dr. Pruett says. “If they overhear a conversation and want to know what’s up, keep it simple, to the level of their developmental understanding. Less is more, so be guided by their questions. If they ask you if you are upset or worried, be honest, but brief, and then reassure them that you will be fine.”
“I know my daughters often look for my reaction as they process something they have seen or heard,” adds Dr. Craig Bach, vice president of education for The Goddard School. “On the one hand, I want my response, body language and demeanor to tell them that everything is and will be okay. However, I also want them to be comfortable in showing their emotions and to know that I have emotions, too. There are some things that happen that are upsetting, and you probably would not want to hide an emotional response.”
“I often think of my parents and how they talked about major events in their life or responded to loss, like when JFK was assassinated or when my grandfather passed away,” Dr. Bach continues. “I remember listening to them, but more importantly, I remember how they responded. For example, when I saw my father’s eyes well up with tears, it was evident that the situation deeply affected him and that it was okay to show emotion and be vulnerable, that that is what healthy adults do.”
4. Follow routines even more strictly than usual.
“The predictable is especially reassuring for kids when the unpredictable is so scary,” says Dr. Pruett.
“The reassurance of predictable activities is always more powerful than I anticipate,” adds Dr. Bach. “Along with talking with my girls, making sure that they have a sense of regularity in their lives also lets them know that the world will carry on and things will be okay no matter how scared they might be.”
Recently, my daughter, now a third-grader, learned about another scary event at school, the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal in April. As we were walking home on the Monday after the disaster, we came across a candlelight vigil for the Nepalese being organized in an outdoor plaza in our neighborhood. I tried to rush us past the area because, even though she is now a big kid, I still want to protect her from learning about such frightening events. But, of course, her curious eyes took in the scene, and she surprised me once again.
“Oh, the earthquake in Nepal is so terrible,” she said.
Then it struck me. Some of her classmates are Nepalese, including one girl she’s been friends with since kindergarten. The earthquake had been a conversation at school that day, as teachers and school staff checked in with the Nepalese students. My daughter’s classroom anxiously awaited word from the Nepalese students’ relatives. Luckily, the reports that came were good for their families: Everyone was safe.
Will I ever stop trying to protect my daughter from scary events? Probably not. But I’m learning that she can handle it, and in fact, she needs to know so she won’t be blindsided by the real world. Plus, by learning about tragedy she can develop skills of compassion and empathy, gain perspective on how her bad days rank in the grand scheme of things, and have opportunities to help others and give back.
“Mom, I need to bring money to school tomorrow to help the Nepalese families,” my daughter told me.
“Of course, honey,” I replied.
She’s gonna be okay.
6 Summer Camp Benefits
For generations, children have spent their summers at day and sleepaway camps, trying new activities such as swimming, hiking, and various sports. But what many families may not realize is that camp provides children with different opportunities to develop important life skills that are difficult to achieve in any other environment. Below are just a few of the many benefits your children will gain from the summer camp experience.
1) Campers obtain the life skills needed to become successful adults.
At camp, children gain valuable life skills. In fact, an organization called The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (comprising a group of businesses, education leaders, and policymakers) has found there is a large gap between the knowledge students learn in school and the skills they need to be successful in the 21st century. After extensive research, the organization determined that some of the skills necessary to become successful adults are communication, collaboration, creativity, leadership, socialization, and problem solving. All of these areas are fostered in the camp environment.
Campers are always communicating with each other, either on the field or in the bunk, learning to work together as a team and as part of the camp community. They also get to be leaders at camp, whether through guiding a first-time younger camper or managing their camp Olympics team. Campers learn to navigate on their own and solve problems by themselves. They engage in many creative outlets, too.
2) Camp educates the whole child.
There is more to learning than test taking and achieving good grades. Camp offers one of the most powerful learning environments and can be a place where a child’s social education takes place. It provides children with the opportunity to try new activities. When children succeed at these activities, they build self-esteem. Children also build social skills and problem- solving skills by being part of a supportive community and partaking in activities together. Campers are challenged and encouraged to grow every day.
3) Camp allows kids to unplug from technology.
Today’s children spend more than 7.5 hours a day engaged with technology, which often takes the place of vital hands-on activities and socialization opportunities. The majority of summer camps ban most technology, including TV, smartphones, tablets, and personal computers. Taking a break from technology over the summer allows children to communicate face to face.
4) At camp, there’s plenty of time for play, which helps children with social and emotional development.
Balancing school schedules, homework, and extracurricular activities doesn’t leave much room for play. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports that free and unstructured play is healthy and essential for helping children to reach important social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones. It also helps kids manage stress. Traditional summer camps give children plenty of play time, which leads to healthy emotional and social development.
5) Children can reinvent themselves at camp.
Students often attend school year after year with the same peers, which can lead to labeling and being “stuck” with a particular perception. A child may become known as studious, quiet, etc., when, really, he can be boisterous in another setting. Children who go to day or sleepaway camps meet a whole other group of people in a different environment. Often times, a child will break out of his supposed categorization if given the chance. Children get to reinvent themselves at camp and be who they truly want to be, which helps them to build confidence.
6) Camp promotes independence.
When children go to camp, they are given the opportunity to grow more independent. Whether for a day or an entire summer, separation from one’s parents means a camper has to learn to rely on himself and other trusted adults and peers. Separation from parents gives a child the ability to think independently, which builds self-esteem.