Megan sighed. She and her husband had saved for months for this special trip to unwind and build family bonds. She had packed lots of things for the children to do in the car.
Cooper hit his brother and they both started the high-pitched screaming that made Megan's skin hurt. She rolled her eyes at her husband when he gave her an exasperated look.
Megan wondered what she could do so her children would relax and enjoy their family vacation.
Megan's dilemma is not unusual. Children crave consistency, stability and routine. How can you help your children cope with the hustle and bustle of traveling? Here are some tips:
- Don't Over Schedule: Leave time for naps and rest. Be realistic about what your family can do.
- Movement: Physical activity is one of the simplest and most effective ways to reduce stress and ensure that your child gets a good night's sleep. Play outside when possible. Stop at rest stops and encourage the children to run around or play tag. Or roll around on the floor at the hotel and "roughhouse" ~ or play music and dance. Download some fun children's songs onto your phone before you travel.
- Toys & Books: Take some familiar and favorite things.
- Music: Calming music helps children relax. Dancing to fast music helps them release stored up energy.
- Stay with your routine and diet as much as possible.
- Give warnings of transitions.
- Spend at least 15 minutes a day of one-on-one focused attention on a child before guiding them into independent play. Sometimes relaxation is spelled t-i-m-e- w-i-t-h- a- p-a-r-e-n-t.
- Communicate. Children may feel frustrated but don't yet have the words to tell you. Be aware of visual clues and give your child words to use: "I'm tired. I'm hungry. I need to jump."
- Laughter: Act goofy and find humor in situations, or start a tickle fight.
- Massages: Rub your child's back or feet while talking soothingly to them or listening to calming music.
- Deep Breathing: Say: "Breath in. Hold it (3 seconds). Breath out." Repeat this several times. While your child is holding their breath, say things like: "I'm so relaxed. I feel good. I'm having fun with my family."
- Blow bubbles or blow up a balloon and toss it around. Offer a squeeze ball to tighten and relax muscles. Tell them to squeeze the ball hard, then drop it - or flex muscles, then relax them.
- Bedtime ritual: Share books and cuddle time before they go to sleep. Have your child tell you what they did today, helping them remember the positive, happy adventures.
- Gratitude Meditation: Help your child express gratitude for all the things they have such as family, home, food, friends, toys, books.
It is important to have realistic behavior expectations. Cranky kids may need more rest and food - or less stimulation. Stay calm through the storms and be a good example of handling stress well. Catch your children being good and tell them you love them, offering security they may need in unfamiliar situations.
- The Key to Surviving a Road Trip with Little Kids: Busy Bags
- Travel Magnet Box
- Prevent Inappropriate Behavior
- Caught Being Good
|Keep Calm and Carry On!|
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