Looking after someone else’s child overnight can be challenging, especially at night when other kids or activities are not distracting your mini-guest from missing home.
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These moments attract the homesickness monster. Here’s how to deal with that fool.
What to do if your kid guest misses home?
Ok, so the kid is already under the monster’s claws and it is up to you to kick its butt.
To do that, first you’ve got to understand how this monster gets its power, and that’s by eating the kid’s sweet home memories, such as:
- Mummy or daddy’s good night ritual (kiss, story, bath, etc.)
- Their favorite Batman night light.
- Whatever else that is familiar to them.
So, to stop homesickness, stop the massive arrival of home memories. To do this is, I recommend you distract the kid as fast as you can.
My go-to solution for how to distract them fast is:
Ask them questions about characters of cartoons or video games that they like.
You don’t need to do any google search on “what do kids like nowadays” or anything. Just look around you. Are there any of these creatures stamped in his/her PJs? Is there an animated movie that you have watched and you know that the kid knows about it too? (Hello Pixar!).
Ask them who would win in a battle between X and Y and why. Play ignorant. You are the student and they are the experts explaining to you how these cartoony people function.
Truly pay attention to the conversation so it feels legit. You won’t fool any kid with empty statements like “Oh really, cool!”. Elaborate a little and you’ll see the reward.
i.e. “So you’re saying that Mario grows big when eating red mushrooms. I guess then Luigi grows when he eats the green ones?”
Do all this in a quiet ambient and don’t turn on the lights. Lower your voice when talking (chances are the kid will whisper back too) and I would suggest to avoid any extreme hand motions or face reactions, so you don’t loose the sleepy mood.
Most of the time, after you finish the conversation with them, they will still be thinking about the stuff that they have just explained to you, and that may lead the homesickness monster to go hunt someone else (hopefully some evil politician!), and maybe create some cool dreams for the kid.
* Bonus tip: When you are asking the questions, interrupt yourself by throwing a couple of yawns. You already know how contagious these can be.
What NOT to do when you have already spotted the homesickness monster?
• Call their parents (unless it is an emergency).
• Ask them why they miss home, or what it is that they miss the most.
• Ignore the kid.
Why I don’t recommend you do that? Because I’ve seen that those 3 actions are the fastest ways to make the monster evolve from being a little Koopa Troopa to a massive Giga Bowser. You’ve been warned.
How to make sure the monster doesn’t come back
Try telling a not-so-entertaining story that helps the kid feel that you are still interacting with them, but that they’d prefer to rest now instead of listening to the whole thing.
Since you would have to do this in a low-light, maybe you should make up the story on your own so you don’t have to flash your phone’s light near the kid.
You don’t have to be super creative to this. Just tell them about your day as if you were talking about someone else… and make it a bit redundant / confusing so the kid finds it hard to follow the story as it develops (muahaha ?).
* Early prevention tip: Name games are a simple and awesome prevention for the “new-kid-homesickness” situation… I heard that playing lots of these name activities during the first day helps because kids (and you, and me) instantly feel like they belong when people start calling them by their name. I guess that sounds right.
How do you know if the kid is homesick?
Sometimes there is soft crying when the room becomes quiet, they ask questions like How much time left until I can go home? or Can I call my mom/dad?. Also, if in the day the kid showed excitement and participation in whatever you did and at night they don’t want to be around others and rather become isolated for no clear reason.
Look out for those looong bathroom breaks!
To sum up:
1 Distract the kid without losing the sleepy mood.
2 Don’t ignore the kid and think that it will pass.
3 Avoid talking to them about what they are missing.
4 Don’t call their parents unless extremely necessary.
I hope this works for you so everyone can finally get some rest.