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Separation Issues

Mommy Dearest: Crying at Summer Camp

Mommy Dearest,

When I dropped my preschool-aged son off at camp this morning, another child was crying inconsolably in a counselor's lap. Several staffers attempted to calm him to no avail. The commotion distracted several other kids who needed to say good-bye to their parents. After 10 minutes of my son clinging to my leg as the other child wailed, I told the camp director that the child was upsetting the other kids and it was a good idea to remove him from the room or to call his parents and ask them to come help. She told me this was part of the tot's daily routine and they were doing their best to comfort him. I found the whole situation upsetting and really wanted to call the director to discuss the matter in more detail, but my husband told me to keep to myself. What would you have done?

– Concerned By Cry Baby

To see the response from Mommy Dearest,


Concerned By Cry Baby,

Every child deals with separation differently and while this child seemed to have a hard time, it sounds like the camp staff had a kind and comforting approach to dealing with his upset. That would certainly make me feel good about leaving my preschooler in their care. As mothers, we never know when the day will come when our own child is the one sobbing or throwing a fit so I'd simply have some compassion for the tot and accept the director's answer. How would you feel if parents called in complaints on your kiddo?

—Mommy Dearest

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Join The Conversation
ecolizzie ecolizzie 8 years
As a camp counselor, I deal with this situation every Monday. For the preschoolers it is best if the parents leave ASAP that way there isn't time for the kids to freak out and the parents to comfort them. The crying usually lasts for 2 min and the kids just want to start having fun. Calling the camp director may be helpful and they will probably explain that this is the best method and the counselors will take great care of the kids.
MissSushi MissSushi 8 years
I think its fairly harsh to jump on the mean adult poor kid bandwagon. If you've ever spent any time observing situations like this, say, at kindergarten drop off and such, a lengthy emotional reaction with sobbing DOES affect other children. It can start children who are fine and dealing with the seperation into crying as well. Try to remember back to when you were a child and dropped off at school/camp/whatever. Its scary and daunting and if there are other kids freaking out, it amps up the emotional reaction. If the poor child routinely goes through this every morning, things need ot be adjusted. It doesn't sound like what they were doing was working to calm the child down. His parents need to reevaluate his ability to stay at the camp, how they drop him off, etc, and the camp counselers need to seek other methods to calm him down. Obviously, letting him sit on their lap and cry for half an hour isnt working. I agree with distraction, they should be distracting him with other activities and things. An inconsolable child is and will always be a distraction and upsetting for other children. Its ridiculous to say her son isnt ready becuase he was distressed by it, but yet the poor child crying his eyes out is fine?
lickety-split lickety-split 8 years
if your child is that upset about a random child crying; he's not ready for camp.
plus_2_kid plus_2_kid 8 years
When you said "he was upsetting the other kids", did you really mean he was upsetting YOUR kid? Or upsetting YOU? Because I really don't think you need to be responsible for all the other kids there. If he was upsetting your kid then deal with your kid. Either move to another room or take the opportunity to explain to your son how brave he was and that maybe he could help make the little boy etc. etc. In short, control what you can control and find a way to work with the other stuff...
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
Yea I agree with others, its none of your business if this kid crys, just walk your kids past them and explain what is going on, you getting upset just makes your kid upset.
LilaBo LilaBo 8 years
seriously.... as a mom of two preschoolers, i've seen (and experienced) my share of crying at drop-off time. usually, it only takes the kids a few minutes to calm down once the parent has left. to interfere and complain about a crying child seems a bit snobby. show some empathy for the poor kid and perhaps encourage your child to do the same.
totygoliguez totygoliguez 8 years
I think you are over reacting. I think is ridiculous of you to ask for the child to be remove or for them to call their parents. As Saham28 said, kids cry.
sham28 sham28 8 years
You should probably just walk your child past the crying kid quickly, then spend a minute saying goodbye inside, or at a different location. If someone called a camp director about something like a child crying I would roll my eyes. Kids cry.
Chouette4u Chouette4u 8 years
I think it would have made sense to move the kid to another room while he settled down. Homesickness can definitely be contagious! But is this something worth a call to the camp director over? I don't know. If it keeps happening and upsets your son, I say go for it, because at that point it IS your business.
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