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Give a gentle shove to face fears or work up to it? What would you do in this situation?

There's plenty of things growing up that my siblings and I were wary about that my parents pushed us into facing (i.e. swimming, sleep overs, new foods, etc) and we quickly learned to get over the fear of those things though there were things my parents had more patience for and worked up to it, like spending a whole month every summer with our grandparents in Ireland without my parents being there by spending school vacations and extended weekends during the school year there.

Last summer my kids told me they wanted to start camping, my dad told them stories about camping trips we took when I was a kid, but when it came time to actually going to a camp ground and spending the night my kids all backed out and never wanted to go. I don't know if its the fear of sleeping out in the dark or that they just don't want to spend a night away from home (though they sleep over with other relatives and my friend's houses). Anyway this summer my husband and I want to take two weeks and go to different camp grounds in PA and MD; and also spend a few days in DC like when I was a kid.

So I'm wondering if I should work up to it with camping in the back yard, to camping in the wooded areas around the neighborhood, to camping in a local camp ground and hope they won't put up a fight on this vacation or should I just deal with the initial problems we'll have on this trip since once we're out there we can't just simply turn around and come all the way home. My husband thinks we should spend a night or two at the local camp ground and tell the kids going home isn't an option (but I know how stubborn my children are and they'll put up a bigger fight at a local camp ground because they know we aren't more than 40 minutes from home).

I figured I'd put this out there and see how any of you would do it...

Answer Question

Asked by anon1986East at 11:44 AM on Apr. 8, 2011 in General Parenting

Level 18 (4,812 Credits)
Answers (11)
  • I would not want to go camping and sleeping on the ground!!! It is not fun!!!! They r not scared. I think they just don't want to sleep on the ground!

    Answer by dancer at 11:46 AM on Apr. 8, 2011

  • I think it's better to force them at a young age to face their fears so they learn the important coping skills to deal with them. I think if you dont make them face their fears you are helping them to cripple themselves as adults.

    Answer by vbruno at 11:47 AM on Apr. 8, 2011

  • I've been wondering about the same thing with camping. I think that this summer I'm going to throw them and the camping stuff in the car and they'll have to deal. I've even told them we'd camp near a town and not have to cook over a campfire (making my life easier - town for dinner and sandwiches for lunch and breakfast.) The boys are warming to the idea, some. DD is going through a fairly girly stage and just cringes at the idea of not showering at all for a day or 2. Her BFF's mom has said she could stay the weekend anytime, so that might be an option for her. Then she can get jealous of the boys' stories.

    Answer by balagan_imma at 11:49 AM on Apr. 8, 2011

  • My folks let us sleep in a tent in the back yard. We had flashlights, water, snacks and the back door was open so we could go to the bathroom. The first time, I had a girlfriend over The second time, a girlfriend and my little sister. Then we added one of her friends. It was fun.

    Answer by Kimimale at 11:49 AM on Apr. 8, 2011

  • Have you asked them what their actual fears are? Or why they don't want to go? I don't think I'd work up to it. I'd just say, "We're going and that's that." Just take them shopping for any supplies/food you'll be bring and hype it up. "When we go camping we'll roast these marshmallows over an open fire and make smores!" and "Wait till you try this bait when we go fishing for our dinner." "When we go camping we're going to be able to ....."

    Answer by Anonymous at 11:49 AM on Apr. 8, 2011

  • I love your idea of the backyard campout!!!

    My husband and I are going to start doing that with our toddlers this summer. We want them to get used to sleeping in a tent with us and having fun, so that we can do camping at a "real" campground when they are finally old enough.

    We actually started the whole thing with living room family camp-outs . . . we have fun, stay up late, etc.

    I would definately work up to it to build soem interest and excitement.

    Answer by ImaginationMama at 11:51 AM on Apr. 8, 2011

  • I would force the issue. Sorry. I am a tough love and deal with it kind of parent. My DD has been forced into a few situations that she didn't like at first and now she is fine with those situations and things. It works for us. Like you we don't want to force every little thing and work up to others. I would take the trip and make them deal. Once they are out there enjoying themselves they will be thankful and so will you. Just don't go camping in south in the summer. WAY to hot. Been there done that and learned my lesson.

    Answer by coala at 11:52 AM on Apr. 8, 2011

  • @ dancer - I understand YOUR opinion about camping but my siblings and I loved camping when we were kids, my sister and one of my brothers go camping with their kids and still have a good time. I always had a blast and I want that for my kids; even the one time when I was 13 that it down poured in DC we still had fun. My children, and yes even my daughters, have no issues with sleeping on the ground. They play in mud and dirt, they lay out in the sun after swimming, they roll down hills, etc. Last year my older boys would camp out in the yard with no problems - my daughters didn't want to be out in the dark and their older brothers kept saying they'd put bugs on them in their sleep so the girls slept in a tent in the living room.

    @anonymous I've asked them but they don't give a real answer - they just claim they don't want to

    Comment by anon1986East (original poster) at 12:12 PM on Apr. 8, 2011

  • Hmmm, I would tell them that either they tell you WHY they don't want to go camping, or you're just going to take them camping, and if they have legitimate reasons as to why they don't wish to go camping, then I would call the camping trip off. Obviously its up to you and your hub to determine if they are legitimate or not.

    Answer by hopeandglory53 at 12:20 PM on Apr. 8, 2011

  • Dancer, that's a matter of opinion. Many people actually enjoy camping - even the sleeping on the ground part. :)

    OP - We're looking at the same question actually. DD has been 'camping' - as in over night at an indoor facility for scouts 1 night with me there. She wants to sleep in a tent. DH and I used to camp a lot. We have a tent and the other gear. DS, however, is not at all interested and, in fact, is quite nervous about the idea. He refuses to go with his Cub Scout den and has told us repeatedly he will never camp. We've been debating whether to attempt a trip over night somewhere. The issue, of course, being does the whole family not do something based on the wishes of one person. DS is also afraid of flying and we do find ways to work around that. This, however, is not quite the same thing. We may start with a backyard camp out and go from there. We've done it once before and they had a great time.

    Answer by ldmrmom at 1:07 PM on Apr. 8, 2011

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