ARE your kids driving you mad this summer? You’re not alone.
The average time until a child tantrums on car journeys is one hour and ten minutes, says Nottingham Trent University.
The average time until a child tantrums on car journeys is one hour and ten minutes, says Nottingham Trent UniversityCredit: Getty
Parenting expert and mum-of-two Tanith Carey said: “By understanding where kids are developmentally, you can make journeys more pleasant for the whole family.”
Katy Docherty brings you a travel checklist for before and during your journey.
Prepare the road: View getting snacks and entertainment for the kids as being every bit as important as filling up the car.
In the days before you set off explain to your child that they will be in the car for a long time to get somewhere as a treat for the the whole family.
This will help them imagine what it will be like and also delay their gratification.
Set out at night: Think about a night or pre-dawn start so your child sleeps for hours of the trip.
Plan some exercise: It’s a huge adjustment for active kids to be restrained in a car seat for hours.
Before you set off, look out for places to stop at parks, service stations or playgrounds along the way.
Talk about seat-belts: Lots of kids simply hate being restrained by their seat belts for long periods.
Get ready by explaining in the days beforehand that wearing seatbelts is the law.
Role-play car journeys in which children tell their toys why they must wear them.
Once they have internalised the rules, young children are more likely to stick to them.
Pack one towel in the back seat for every child: IT can be used as a blanket, a mop for any spills, or on toddlers’ laps to help toys stay put.
You can also tuck one end into the window and hang it as a curtain to keep out the sun.
If children get hot and sweaty, you can also moisten it with water to help keep them cool on hot days.
Take off their shoes: Asking a small person to keep still for so long is a really big ask.
If you expect they WILL want to spend some energy kicking the back of your seat, take off their shoes at the start of the journey, which will also make them more comfy.
Then you won’t feel it as much if they do kick – and it won’t be quite as satisfying for them!
Think about a night or pre-dawn start so your child sleeps for hours of the tripCredit: Getty
Anticipate car sickness: Children may get car sick if they can’t see out of the window or if they are older, they are fixing their focus on a book or gadget.
Encourage them to look outside, and distract them with talking games and stories.
Help them realise how often they are asking “Are we there yet?”: take a bag of their favourite treats.
Each time they ask, the question eat one – and tell them they will only get whatever’s left at the end of the journey. It will make them think twice about repeating the question.
View car trips as a chance to have fun: They are a time to be together and chat.
To make the journey go faster, play interactive games like looking out for landmarks, colours and different-shaped clouds, playing I-Spy or number plate spotting.
For younger kids, spot a letter they recognise on a car registration.
For older ones make up a silly sentence starting with the letters they see on the back of the vehicle in front.
Don’t just rely on screens: IF you believe screens will be helpful for your journey, it’s still a good idea to introduce limits.
Otherwise kids will get the idea that they should be entertained at all times with gadgets, even on shorter car trips.
Decide beforehand and tell them that you will let them watch a film or episode at a certain point in the journey.
Ask your child to help make a playlist for the car journey and have a family sing-along.
Head off tantrums over lost toys: Take a pair of kitchen tongs in the car with you, to help retrieve the fiddly toy that kids tend to drop.
But as far as possible don’t take too many fiddly things, like Lego people and Polly Pockets, as there will just be more for you to pick up.
- TIPS extracted from ‘What’s My Child Thinking? Practical Child Psychology for Modern Parents’ by Tanith Carey with clinical child psychologist, Dr Angharad Rudkin
View getting snacks and entertainment for the kids as being every bit as important as filling up the carCredit: Shutterstock