We look forward to the summer holidays with a mixture of feelings, don’t we? If you are a working parent, you may have to consider an activity holiday club. This is not always straightforward for a child who may be anxious in new social situations. Here are my top tips to help your child settle effectively.
1.Allow a Sense of Ownership
If your child is older, they are more likely to want to attend a club that has the activities they are interested in. For instance, sit down and have a bit of a brainstorming session before the end of the term.
2.Manage the Anxiety at Holiday Club
3. Familiarize your child with the separation situation before it happens.
Unfamiliar events, people and places can all create anxiety. Use the ladder of success to show some steps on each rung. Anxiety likes and feels contained with a plan!
Some simple steps on the ladder would look like this:
- Try and show a picture of the club.
- Take them for a visit to see the environment
- Have a trial run, they could stay for an hour and build it up
- Have a safe adult attachment figure, that they know will greet them when you say goodbye
- Go with a friend
- Have a clear goodbye transition ( meet the safe adult, hug, and say goodbye)
4. Educate your child about worries, separation anxiety or social anxiety.
Research shows that “psychoeducation” and ” parent power” ( you can help your child!!!) will, in turn, enable your child to manage the anxiety. ( Buy a book, or just sit and talk with them, we all know what it means to suffer from anxiety).
5. Teach your Child” Coping Skills” to manage “Big Feelings”
Parents often tell me that when they ask their child to breathe slowly, they often refuse. I’ve always found that if you are playful, your child will be less likely to resist you! So instead of asking them to breathe, you can:
- Practice breathing by pretending to blow out candles.
- Practice gentle breathing by blowing bubbles.
- Let’s be the ocean waves breathing in and out.
- Buy a party popper to help them to “blow out”.
This is a Poster to help your child I made some time ago, you can download below.
6.Use a Transitional Object
When children are going to be away from their home, it’s a good idea to send them off with one or more items. Things that remind them of the home. It might be something of yours, a toy, a little precious stone they can rub ( I call it a worry stone) As a result, using transitional objects helps to decrease the anxiety.
7. Empower them to use Positive Thinking Skills!
When we suffer from anxiety, catastrophic or upsetting thoughts develop. Furthermore, it might mean your child may worry about something happening to you or to themselves at a holiday club. These thoughts escalate anxiety, so it’s good to for you and them to identify what they may be. For that reason, enable the development of ” positive counterbalancing thoughts” such as:
I can do it, I am not my thoughts
This is just the scary monster, I’ve managed this before
I know how to keep myself calm
Mummy must be in traffic, that’s why she may late
8.Use Rewards to Reinforce the Behaviour you want
When your child is successful at separating from you, it’s really important to reward them. Reinforcement, can take the form of Praise, material possession or give them some Special Time after the club. As a result, they are going to feel good, brave and want to go again.
9.Discourage Avoidance or Escape behaviour
If you have followed my suggestions, then hopefully your child is less likely to use avoidance. If this occurs, it is helpful for your child to ” survive and stick it out”. Avoiding will only increase your child’s anxiety. It’s not only our children who will have strong pathways around avoidance (or their usual response during anxiety), we will too. If we tend to respond to their anxiety by colluding with it, the cycle continues. Change is not easy and takes our brains time to make different neural pathways, that’s why it’s sometimes good to seek support on this if you are struggling.
There is, however, an exception to this rule. If your child is really not ready for a holiday club, forcing the leap may make it worse. Trust your intuition on this one and start gently.
Holiday clubs can be fun and enjoyable once the initial transition is survived. I really hope that this helps and wishing you all a great holiday. Do follow me on Facebook and if you need support to manage the anxiety, contact me for a consultation