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Preparing children how to deal with homesickness can help prevent the same.

Researchers from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor found that with preparation, one can prevent homesickness. When the child's stay away isn't planned - for example, if a child is hospitalised unexpectedly, homesickness can be treated.

Nearly everyone experiences homesickness, to a greater or lesser degree. For about 80 percent of children going to summer camp or spending time in the hospital, homesickness is mild and remains at a low level, but for the other 20 percent, it is more severe and gets worse. One in 14 children have homesickness so severe that they cannot function.

Key elements of preparation for planned trips include spending short practice times away from home, like a weekend at a relative or friend's house; including the child in decision making; and avoiding mixed messages.

For example, parents shouldn't say things like we don't know what we'll do without you. It's also essential for parents not to make promises they can't keep, such as saying to a hospitalised child that he or she will be able to go home on a specific day, or will have a test at a specific time. Parents should never make pick-up deals with kids away at camp or school, promising to pick them up if they don't like it. Such deals send the message that parents have no confidence in the child's ability to cope with the new situation.

Parents can suggest coping strategies to their children, such as talking to someone who can help them feel better, or doing something fun. They should also make sure that children know how to write letters; studies suggest communicating by phone and instant messaging may actually make homesickness worse.

But talking won't. The researchers therefore advise that parents should talk about it. Talking about homesickness doesn't make it worse; it actually makes it better.