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On Anthem- need AO advice from parents of young kids


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Hello all!

I am currently on Anthem (day 2 of 11- woot!). We have my almost 4 year old with us and trying to get him used to Adventure Ocean so my husband and I can do some adult things... you know like bumper cars and rock climbing lol. The real end goal is for us to be able to go on our zip lining excursion on day 7 as we need to leave him on the ship for it. He is not taking too well to AO and I’m not confident what we are doing is the best strategy. 

My current strategy is to try and drop him off multiple times a day so he knows this is part of cruising. We did sessions today in the morning, afternoon and evening to try and make it a routine thing. All three times we were called on the phone within 30 min to come get him as he was crying a lot. I will say it got slightly better each time. The first time they practically dragged him from us kicking a screaming. By the third time he refused to go in, but once he saw the kids dancing, he was good. However once the dancing stopped (my kids favorite thing to do is dance), he started crying. When we went to get him after the call, he was sitting with the others in circle time and crying... again. We have had some very calm talks as to not make it seem like this huge deal. We tell him about the toys and kids and games. The staff is great and want to help, but I understand they can’t spend 20 min with just him each time getting him acclaimated. I know it’s only our first day trying so I am really hoping that my strategy will work, but thought it was worth asking you experienced folks for advice.

Quick backstory on my kid.  He's not very social and a little bit of a scardy cat. Part of the reason is he has a language delay so he’s not always 100% sure of his situation. He’s been in daycare almost a year and does well there. Took a few weeks of repetition, but now goes without a problem. I’m nervous 5 days will not be enough of a routine for us to feel good about leaving him for 5 hours on day 7.

Just a note, if my son is not ready to be left alone on day 7, WE WILL NOT DO IT. I will eat the excursion cost no problem if we decide last minute to stay on the ship. I do not want to force him there. I want him to enjoy it like he should. I want it to be a win-win and will only leave him if I’m confident he will be fine. Don’t need this to be a traumatizing cruise because I’m already hankering for more. 🙂

Any advice or tips for this new cruiser who wants to have an hour alone with her husband... and hopefully a fun excursion? Should I stay on course? 

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I've had really good AO experiences and not so good AO experiences.  

My biggest suggestion is to take a look at the kids cruise compass and ask him if he would rather do the activities in the am or pm session.  Sometimes having a choice makes him feel like he will be in control and can be more accepting of it. The pirate, face painting and carnivals themes have always been a hit with my child.  Tell him that you will take him there for an hour and if he doesn't cry, you will take him to buy ice cream or whatever positive reward (aka bribe) would work for him.  If that works, then maybe you can build it up to a longer time being gone.  I would keep it to the daytime activities right now as there are less kids in there.  Evening activities can be overwhelming with so many kids and the staff can't quite spend as much time with them.

You have a great attitude.  Good luck!

 

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I'd also recommend telling your son he doesn't have to participate in what the other kids are doing. As an example, he can read quietly or perhaps draw.  The staff is usually pretty good about not forcing all the kids to do the same thing.

Also, during port days, there will be far fewer kids in AO.  That can mean a lot more attention for him by the counselors.

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Thanks for the responses! Dropped him off at 9 today and was the only kid. We went back in 20 min and got him. Still crying. He did go in without much of a fight though when we dropped him off (even though he was crying) so think he’s slowly getting it.

We have tried the bribe but he wants nothing to do with a bribe. Kid is a little too smart and weighs his options lol. We will let him know he can do his own thing though. Good to know about port days.

 

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10 minutes ago, CruisinUngs said:

Thanks for the responses! Dropped him off at 9 today and was the only kid. We went back in 20 min and got him. Still crying. He did go in without much of a fight though when we dropped him off (even though he was crying) so think he’s slowly getting it.

We have tried the bribe but he wants nothing to do with a bribe. Kid is a little too smart and weighs his options lol. We will let him know he can do his own thing though. Good to know about port days.

 

Nothing to advise, just hope it's getting better for you. My 6 years old did not want to be in AO either and had been like that since he was 3 years old on his first cruise. I just came back from Anthem. We were lucky enough that my in-laws went with us and took care of him 2 nights so we could go to the shows. However, he does like to listen to music at the music hall and dance so all of us stay late one night. 

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Quick update if anyone is curious: had a rush this AM due to clocks being put ahead and us not setting an alarm. Had North Star at 10 (rescheduled for day 2 due to winds) so we had to drop him in AO and run. Not ideal. My risky decision was to show him the small bag of toys I brought and let him pick what he got if he went. Worked like a charm! He was dropped off with limited whining and was pretty good the whole 45 min we were gone.

AO staff members Cherry, who has been there almost every time, got him to color. She seemed to take 10 min just for him and it helped a lot. Her and Bubbles have been fantastic. 

@Matt telling him he could do what he wanted I think helped. He didn’t feel forced to do the activities and ended up coloring. Thanks!

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