Question from member: Gearing up for my 10-year-old’s first sleepaway camp – I know he is ready, he will enjoy it, he has some familiarity w the place (we didn’t take this decision lightly)… he is (understandably) anxious and turning his angst into negativity: hating the camp, hating us for sending him, and then some. I’m trying to balance acknowledging his fears, assuaging them, offering a positive outlook by explaining our rationale for sending him (he keeps asking why). I think I just need a pep talk because his negativity at times like this really wears me down.

Reply from Rachel:

I have a 9 year old who is so similar… when she’s anxious, she can be SO negative (and so mean). It’s exhausting and frustrating. I commend you for trying to balance listening to his fears and trying to be positive.

Just keep in mind that when they’re in Yuck, nothing positive or rational will get through. Sometimes if you don’t set your expectations about that, it’s easy to get frustrated that nothing “works.” It might help you feel more in control not to try to change his attitude, at least at first.

Here’s what I personally do (not always perfectly!):

1.) Focus on MYSELF rather than on why my daughter is saying/doing. Am I able to stay in control of myself when she’s being negative? If so, I consider THAT a “success.” Sure, I ultimately prefer her to change her attitude… But I also know that that’s ultimately out of my control.

I also try to remind myself that if I want her to stay positive even when things aren’t going the way she wants them to do, I need to MODEL that and try to stay positive/in control even when she’s not acing the way I wish she would.

2.) I vent to my husband about this a LOT! I’m personally not a positive, Pollyanna type of person so it annoys me to have to deal with this and be the “mature” one…. I need to talk about it. I just try not to take it out on my daughter, who’s “coping” in the best way she knows how.

Ultimately you can also teach her new Yuck Release Strategies… I’ve done that for my daughter and it’s helped a lot too! But for now, you might just want to focus on what’s in your control.