For us, trips are usually all about the kids. Family vacations are my favorite! But we always travel by car which can bring some unique challenges.
Having the kids in the car is fine when they are behaving, but when they are brewing naughty or acting out, it can drive parents to distraction, which is not really ideal when they are driving – skilled car accident lawyers will tell you that children misbehaving is one of the most common causes of accidents on the road – and can lead to some sticky situations.
The good news is, if your children are prone to misbehaving when they’re bored in the back of the car, there are a few things you can do to turn their behavior around and avoid those annoying distractions when you’re driving.
Prep them for the journey
Before you head off in the car as a family, it’s a good idea to make sure that you all have everything you need, and that the kids have all been to the toilet. You may also want to ensure that they’ve had a filling snack, or that you have snacks available for them in the car. By covering these basics, you eliminate some of the most common causes of distraction that can cause kids to misbehave in the car, making it less likely that they will distract you when you’re on the road.
Pick some entertainment
If you want your kids to behave well on car journeys, you need to avoid them getting bored, which is why you should aim to pack things like travel games, favorite toys, books, and maybe even tablets. If you can fit a DVD player in the back of your car or download their favorite audiobooks too, then so much the better. Basically, think about the things your kids love doing and find a way of making that portable so that they always have something to do when you’re on the road.
Set some ground rules
Of course, there is no point in setting rules if you are not going to enforce them, so you need to show your children that there will be consequences for their actions. For example, you could (and probably should) pull over as soon as they start arguing, fighting, or taking their seat belts off, or you could think about turning off or removing their entertainment until they start to behave. In extreme circumstances, you may need to park up and refuse to move until their behavior improves.
Talk to them about the dangers
If your kids know that there could be serious consequences for their poor behavior, they will be more likely to cooperate with you and do what you ask of them more often. So, in an age-appropriate way, sit them down and talk to them about the risk of driving distracted, what kinds of accidents can happen, and the importance of them adhering to safety rules like wearing their seat belts. You don’t have to be graphic, but you absolutely should impress upon them the seriousness of poor behavior.
It may also be useful o explain to them exactly how each and every rule you have imposed actually helps to keep them safe, so things like explaining how seat belts and car seats work if they are old enough to understand, can work wonders too.
Take regular breaks
If you are traveling for long distances with your children, perhaps to go on vacation or see family members in another state, although it may be a bit more inconvenient for you, it’s a really good idea to plan more rest stops into your itinerary. Even the best-behaved children will start to get cabin fever and act up when the boredom and discomfort of many hours on the road sets in, and if they are young, they really won’t be able to control themselves as an adult does. Letting them get out, breathe in some fresh air, and stretch their legs will make the world of difference, and although your trip will be longer, it will also be a much more enjoyable one with far fear tantrums, arguments, and distractions, which means it’s totally worthwhile, right?
Getting your kids to behave in the car can be tricky, and it’s not always something you can master overnight, but it is possible, and it is important that you make the effort to do so for the safety of you all so it is definitely something you should start working on right now if you haven’t already!