Plan ahead for festive journeys
Parenting column by Sasha Brown, family care manager at Community Family Care, Staunton
For some parents travelling in the car with children can be a stressful event if they are constantly distracted, trying to stop fights, preventing the removal of seatbelts, or trying to keep children entertained.
If the thought of that car journey fills you with dread then here are some simple tips that could make it easier.
Prepare your child in advance for the journey. Talk to them about safety and how the driver needs to be able to concentrate as well as reminding them about needing to wear a seatbelt.
Remember to set a good example by wearing your own seatbelt.
Bored children are more likely to misbehave so plan some activities that your child can do in the car to keep them occupied and out of mischief.
This could be engaging them in games such as I-spy and counting games or keeping a few toys in the car.
Engaging them with questions about what they see/hear gives them brief amounts of your attention whilst also promoting development.
Setting simple rules can help remind your child what is expected of them whilst you are travelling in the car. For example, ‘Keep your seatbelt on’, ‘Speak in your quiet voice’, or ‘Keep your hands
and feet to yourself ’, are all good reminders of what behaviour you would like to see whilst in the car.
Remember to go through the rules with your child before your journey and agree on a reward for following the rules.
Rewards are a good way of encouraging your child to behave well while travelling and can reinforce the behaviour that you want to see from them.
Rewards needn’t be expensive or food-based: a special activity at the end of the journey or extra quality time with mum/dad can be more effective rewards than sweets.
Give your child praise each time they are behaving as you want them to.
Before you set off, discuss the consequences with your child of what will happen if they do not follow the rules.
Consequences could involve: not receiving the reward, removal of a toy or privilege at the other end of the journey, or stopping the car for time out.
If your child is whining, shouting, or pulling faces, simply tell them that you are not going to respond to them until they use their quiet/nice voice and only give them attention when they are displaying the behaviour you want to see.
This can always be backed up with a consequence if the behaviour continues.
After the trip remember to review it with your child and give them lots of praise for all of the good behaviour.
If they didn’t follow a rule, encourage them to remember it for the next journey.
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