The little sores | When my child no longer wants to go to day camp

Parenting a young child comes with its own set of challenges. And it happens that we no longer know where to turn to find answers to these little everyday worries. The Press explores an issue that affects the well-being of children with the help of a specialist. Today: tips for intervening with your 5 or 6 year old child who is sulking at day camp.

That’s it, the summer routine is on; our child is at day camp, but his first week is still far from over and he no longer wants to go. What to do ?

“First, you have to start by understanding why he reacts negatively,” says psychoeducator Solène Bourque, who is also an author and educational consultant.

“At 5 or 6 years old, children will have difficulty naming exactly why they are not well. They’re going to say, “I don’t like it.” The day camp is a change. Often, the facilitators will be young people aged 17 to 22 who are very dynamic, but who will not necessarily have the nurturing side or a little more enveloping of a kindergarten teacher. So it’s definitely a different dynamic than school or daycare,” she says.


Psychoeducator Solène Bourque

Each child reacts differently in this situation; and if he started day camp without having had time to decompress after the end of classes, for example, he may not be open to returning to a structure, advances Solène Bourque. He could also be unsettled by being in a large group or not having found his friends.

Most children will go through an adjustment period of a few days because it’s new to them. It’s normal for them to react and you can’t say to yourself, after three days: “OK, it’s not working, we’re stopping everything.”

Solène Bourque, psychoeducator

The psychoeducator often advises parents, whether after school, daycare or day camp, to look back on the day by finding “sun” moments and “cloudy” moments. “You have to find positive things in the days. What was difficult today? What went well? It can’t be, a day where there are only clouds. »


The day camp helps develop children’s creativity and autonomy.

We can then focus on what the child liked to motivate him the next day, even if it means talking to the leaders and supervisors to see if he could not observe or serve as an assistant during the activities that pose a problem.

“What we want is for the child to have positive experiences at the day camp. They are often in contact with nature, it allows them to develop their creativity and a certain autonomy, to be in contact with children different from those they knew at school, in a structure that is much more free, ”underlines Solène Bourque.

When to switch to plan B

Since day camps generally last only a few weeks, if the child’s discomfort persists beyond the first week, the psychoeducator believes that it might then be worth considering an alternative solution – for example, having him or her looked after by members of the extended family or other relatives.

If that’s not possible, we can try to shorten his days at day camp or keep him one day a week at home, when teleworking is possible, our family or financial situation allows it.

How to occupy it away from the screens, in this case?

A distinction must be made between screen time which is passive and screen time which is active.

Solène Bourque, psychoeducator

“A child watching videos on YouTube is passive screen time; it’s just absorbing content. Whereas if he’s on an app doing a matching game, colors or watching an educational video and learning things, that’s really different. »

And rather than giving him the tablet as soon as he asks for it, for example, we can suggest that he do an activity for 15 to 30 minutes before taking it or save this screen time for times when we have an important meeting.

“Otherwise, when he has a moment of boredom, the first thing he thinks about is the tablet, rather than the amount of games in his playroom or going outside to play. At first the child will run around in circles, but after five minutes he will do something,” she says.

“We are less and less tolerant of the child getting bored,” says the psychoeducator. But from boredom comes creativity. We must allow children to experience small moments without animation and without a screen. »

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