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13-Year-Old Refuses To Go To Camp

Mark:

I have a 13-year-old who is refusing to go to a gifted and talented camp he registered for. He says he would not have if I hadn't pressured him to. I have explained he could have refused then as much as he is now. Our school spent over $500 on this. I do not have lots of money to pay it back and neither does he. I think he is afraid to do something alone and new. It is a week long and away from home. There are 2 others from his class of 10 that will be there, but both girls. He has gotten a little clingy at times--at others, he is willing to be gone for hours/overnight with no concern. Help!

J.

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I wouldn’t force him to go. Is there anyone else who could take his place? We’re talking about separation anxiety here. Separation anxiety is excessive concern about separation from home or from those to whom the child is attached. The youngster may develop excessive worrying to the point of being reluctant or refusing to go to school, being alone, sleeping alone, going to camp, etc. Repeated nightmares and complaints of physical symptoms (such as headaches, stomach aches, nausea, or vomiting) may occur.

All children experience anxiety. Anxiety in children is expected and normal at specific times in development. For example, from approximately age 8 months through the preschool years, healthy youngsters may show intense distress (anxiety) at times of separation from their parents or other persons with whom they are close. Young children may have short-lived fears, (such as fear of the dark, storms, animals, or strangers). Anxious children are often overly tense or uptight. Some may seek a lot of reassurance, and their worries may interfere with activities. Parents should not discount a child’s fears. Because anxious children may also be quiet, compliant and eager to please, their difficulties may be missed. Parents should be alert to the signs of severe anxiety so they can intervene early to prevent complications.

Symptoms of separation anxiety include:

·constant thoughts and intense fears about the safety of parents and caretakers
·refusing to go to school
·frequent stomachaches and other physical complaints
·extreme worries about sleeping away from home
·being overly clingy
·panic or tantrums at times of separation from parents
·trouble sleeping or nightmares

Mark

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