Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Sudden Dependence

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: My eight-year-old daughter has been raised to be independent. She has gone with relatives and friends for weekends and week-long visits since she was two years old. She has always been given the option and never forced. This year she went away to church camp for a week and sobbed when she got home because she missed everyone so much. She then started crying every time we visit someone for a weekend or when she has to come home from vacation. The only thing that might be hard for her at home is that she has to share a room with one of her two baby sisters. She also cries at night and says she is scared of tornados. What can I do?

A: At age eight, a week at church camp is a long time to be away from home, even for a child who is used to being with relatives and friends. Even though the concept of being away is the same, camp is very different -- your daughter was with a large group of children and adults who she probably did not know well, sleeping in a cabin or tent with a large group, and staying outdoors more than she is probably accustomed. There may have been some storms while she was at camp or perhaps simply a discussion of storms and tornados.

Try to reassure your daughter that you have confidence in her as a "big girl" and that you know she can take care of herself. Let her know that you will always make sure she is safe. You may want to cut back on your trips away from home for awhile and let her gradually get used to being away for longer periods of time. Try to be patient with her as she goes through this time.

If your daughter's fears continue, talk with the school counselor. He may be able to give her some individual time or include her in a small group. If you decide that your daughter needs additional help outside school, the counselor or your pediatrician can refer you to a therapist in your community.

More on: Expert Advice

Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


Special Books for the Kids You Love
Celebrate 20 years of sharing love to the moon and back with the anniversary edition of Guess How Much I Love You, one of the world’s best-loved picture books. Plus, search our Book Finder for more great book picks. Brought to you by Candlewick Press.

Vote Now for the Children's & Teen Choice Book Awards
Voting is open now through May 3 for the Children's and Teen Choice Book Awards — the only national book awards program where the winning author, illustrator, and books of the year are selected by young readers. Encourage your child to vote for his favorites today!

Top 10 Math & Science Apps for Your Whiz Kid
Looking for the best math and science apps for kids? Check out these cool apps for all ages, which will grow your child's love of the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Wondering what to do now that you've signed your child up for kindergarten? Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks