By Rachel Diebel
We’ve all been on the plane ride or in the art museum with a screaming baby, misbehaving child or sulky teenager. No one wants to be the embarrassed parent apologizing for the disruption, but we would all love to take our kids with us on our adventures. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to instill good habits in your children to make traveling a little less of a hassle and a little more enjoyable–for you and your kid.
Prepare Them (And You) for the Trip
One of the most important things you can do for your kids before you travel is get them (and yourself) prepared for whatever may happen. If you are traveling to another country, show them videos of where they will be, and try to teach them a few basic words of the language. Make a list of everything they will need for the trip (be sure to ask them for their input to make them feel involved) and pack early. Travel games, books, extra clothes–there are so many things that you’re sure to forget something, so give yourself enough time to remember again. And teach them that sometimes unexpected things happen, too.
Tell Them Exactly What Will Happen
Kids, particularly younger kids, react to uncertainty. Often when they act up, it’s because they’re afraid or don’t understand what is going on. Imagine seeing a metal detector at an airport or a crowded subway train for the first time! To combat this, try to explain to your children exactly what will happen when they go through security or board the train or other new situations. Even though it is exhausting, try to answer every question as it comes up. This may save you some meltdowns in the future.
When it Comes to Food, Patience and Repetition are Key
One of the hardest things as a parent is trying to get your child (whether they are six or sixteen) to try new foods, particularly ones that don’t look or smell particularly appetizing. The key is to give them new food experiences early and often, and to create and enforce (or at least try!) a “you must at least try it” rule. This way they get used to trying things no matter what, and won’t demand chicken nuggets as soon as the spicy curry comes out. Inevitably, your child will make a face or refuse to eat something. Take a deep breath and try to move on with the meal. Eventually they’ll love tryingÂ everything on their plates. Sometimes especially smaller children just aren’t going to try everything new, and that’s okay too.
Manners, Manners, Manners
One of the best things you can do to raise your kids to be good travelers is to teach them good manners. Teaching your kids to hold open doors, say please and thank you, and ask before grabbing something are basic habits that you’ll want to cultivate anyway. They just happen to come in handy the most when you’re on the go!