10 Things You Must Know When Traveling with Children

Children and traveling

Traveling with Kids? Be Prepared!

Dr. Robyn Silverman

NOTE: Would you please vote for Dr. Robyn’s Blog for best Parenting Blog?  It only takes a moment! Thank you!!!

Getting ready to go to Grandma’s for the holidays?  Heading out for a long car ride? Plane ride? Don’t stress. Just be prepared.

It’s amazing that our parents were able to take us on trips without a zillion electronic gadgets.  No Ipods, DVD players, hand held games, or cell phones. Well, it’s a new world.  We need to make sure that everyone is occupied if it’s going to be a pleasant trip.

Whether you’re taking a GrandVacation with the grandparents or simply going on a long car ride to visit Aunt Patti in Mobile, be prepared with:

(1) Location games to play: I-spy, Padiddle (pointing out a car with one headlight), counting games, the alphabet game (saying destinations by going through the alphabet, A my name is Alice…), looking for specific letters on license plates, locating one car from every states.  The number of games is endless.  Brainstorm these games in advance so you’re not trying to remember them while on the road.

(2) Communication games to play: The car is one of the best places to talk to your children and teens.  The side by side nature of travel makes talking less uncomfortable.  You can simply tell stories and ask questions but you can also play games that inspire communication like  Finish the sentence (If I had a million dollars I would…) and Everyone answers (Name one thing that made you laugh today, name one thing you’re worried about).

(3) Sleepy, bored campers must be comfortable: Have someone who gets sick in the car? Tired on planes? Make sure they have a comfy blanket, pillow, and their favorite stuffed toy, if they need it.  Go over exactly what needs to be packed and make sure the children check everything off before they leave. This is a great time for children to learn how to pack their own suitcase (even if you look everything over) for the trip. We want them to have what they need! Fussy, crabby, sleep-deprived teens or children are not fun to be around!  Even if it’s something extra for them to carry (get portable sizes), be sure they have what they need to sleep it off. Other things to pack in your carry on bag here.

(4) Songs to Sing: Many children love to sing in the car. You might think that you can go with the old standbys like 99 bottles but after you get about 4 measures in you’ll see that it wasn’t the best choice.  Be prepared with short songs that your children like to sing like “wheels on the bus,” “It’s a hard knock life,” “The Circle Game,” or “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead.”  You can even print out the words so that one of the adults can lead the singing and actually know the words that are supposed to be sung.

(5) Mechanical back-up: If you’re going to be in the car, trailer, or plane for over8-10 hours, you may want to have a portable DVD player available as a reward for children who’ve been sitting still all day.  Get a movie that all your children can enjoy.  You can give them earphones so that they can listen while you get some moments of peace and quiet.  You can also bring along Ipods, hand held games, and leap frog systems.  Make sure that you don’t bring loud games.  They’ll drive you crazy.

(6) Snacks! Troops get hungry: Make sure you have healthy snacks like carrot sticks, celery sticks, orange segments, and raisins ready to go.  You can also bring along other snacks like crackers, cookies, and fruit roll-ups.  Also ensure that you have juice boxes and water. No trip is fun when people are hungry or thirsty.

(7) Wipes! People get messy: Children who eat in the car or on the plane get messy.  Bring along wipes. tissues, and a sense of humor.

(8) Maps to know where you’re heading: Make sure your children know where you’re going and what you’ll be doing so that they get excited and mentally prepared. You also need maps to ensure that you know where you’re going, the locations of favorite kid friendly restaurants, sites you might want to see, and places where you can meet friends who you haven’t seen in a long time.  Stops give the children and teens time to stretch their legs and break up the day if you’re driving int he car.  If you’re flying, maps are fun ways to learn about the places where you’re going as well as the places you’re flying over!

(9) Labels so things don’t get lost: Make sure that you label your suitcases well.  Everyone has a black suitcase, so if you have the option, get another color.  Label special toys and blankets so that if they get lost there is a chance they’ll come back to you.

(10) Stranger danger and ground rules: We don’t want our children and teens to be frightened when we go away but we do want them to be smart.  Go over what you expect and talk to them about staying safe while in an airport, rest stop, or other place away from home.  Call a family meeting and talk about the different rules we need to follow, buddy systems you need to have, and things to expect.  Getting it all out in the open before you leave with ease the way for everyone.

In the end, it’s just important to have a good time– so leave the stress at home and enjoy! It’s time to make memories!

Happy Holidays everyone!

NOTE: Would you please vote for Dr. Robyn’s Blog for best Parenting Blog?  It only takes a moment! Thank you!!!

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs


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“Mommy, I hate you and Daddy You’re Mean!” Six Tips to Help You Cope with Your Child’s Angry Words

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Dear Dr. Robyn,

I feel like the worst Mom. My son is 4 years old and he has always been a very sweet and loving boy. But the other day when we were playing with his toy trucks on the floor he got really mad, threw the truck down, and told me that he hated me! I was so surprised that I didn’t know what to say. I want to be prepared for the next time it happens (if it happens). What should I do?

                                                                                   —Susanne R., San Diego, CA

“Mommy, I hate you and Daddy You’re Mean!”

Six Tips to Help You Cope with Your Child’s Angry Words

By Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

“Mommy, I Hate You!”

“Daddy, You’re Mean!”

Being a parent is tough sometimes, isn’t it? Yes, you know in your head that your child doesn’t really hate you. But when he utters those words it’s as if he is nailing a scarlet letter to your head with a tinker toy. The words are “child’s play” but the effect sure does feel real.

Young children do not have to subtle language to beat around the bush. When they’re angry, they show it. If you don’t give them their way, they are going to let you know about their frustration. It’s normal. It just doesn’t feel like it when it happens to you. What should you do?

(1) Look for the issue behind the words: Your child does not always have the language to explain his frustration. When your child says “I hate you,” he might be having difficultly with a task, attaining something he wants, or expressing an emotion like fear. As parents, we must become a detective and figure out what our children are really trying to relay.

(2) Help your child recognize anger: If your child can recognize when he is feeling angry, he will have an easier time expressing and coping with the feeling rather than lashing out. Ask your child, “what does your body feel like when you’re angry?” Help him to name it while it’s happening, “I can tell by your face and body that you are angry. You’re having trouble putting the wheel back on your truck. That is very frustrating!” This will help to validate what your child is feeling and help him put a name to the emotion he is feeling.

(3) Give your child the right words: When your child is calm, talk about what happened. Remind him of when he was feeling angry earlier in the day and what he said. Let him know that when he says “I hate you,” it hurts your feelings. Then ask him, “What can you say instead?” If he is unsure, give him the right words. “When you feel this way, instead of saying ‘I hate you,’ say, ‘I feel angry and I need help, please.” Help him to practice expressing his feelings so that when he is angry again, he can call on these skills.

(4) Provide calming techniques: We all get angry. Helping your child deal with anger in a constructive way will be a gift that he can use for the rest of his life. Introduce and practice some techniques when your child is open to listening (not when in the heat of battle!). Counting to 10, singing a song, and talking to oneself, are some simple ways to calm down when angry. One of my favorite techniques is to “smell the roses and blow away the clouds.” This is a powerful way to teach children to take a few deep breaths.

(5) Provide problem solving techniques: Let your child know that there are lots of ways to solve problems. If something isn’t working, try something else! You might say, “Could you help me put the wheel back on my truck?” or “maybe I should play with something else.” Help your child think about solutions that are safe, fair, and likely to be successful.

(6) Watch your own language: Regrettably, in this case, “monkey see, monkey do.” If you use harsh language in anger or you typically say “I hate” towards objects (i.e. I hate doing laundry; I hate when the phone rings during your nap time), your child will pick up on it and use it himself. Unfortunately, such language might be directed at you!

Perhaps the most important thing for you to keep in mind while all this is happening is that your child doesn’t really hate you. So take a deep breath. Sometimes parents, too, need to remember to smell the flowers and blow away the clouds. After all, it’s likely that clear skies are on the horizon.

With great respect,

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Webmaster’s Note: This article was originally published in Bay State Parent Magazine, where Dr. Robyn is a columnist. Dr. Robyn recently earned the Silver Award for her series, Fitting in and Standing Out, on Body Image in America from Parenting Publications of America.

The ABCs of Parenting and Stress Management: 26 Ways to Get Through the Most Trying Days

Not feeling very “Powerful” today?
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By Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

Trying to cope with a toddler tantrum on an hour’s worth of sleep?

Battling with your teen about staying out to late?

Nobody said that parenting was going to be easy, but come on!

Don’t you wish that someone gave you the manual for parenting and stress management when your little bundle of joy was born?

Arm yourself from A to Z with 26 tips that will get you through the most trying days:

A- Accept the things you can not change: Single parenting? Step parenting? ADHD parenting? Just dealing with time crunches, making lunches, bunches and bunches of bills? It’s important to recognize that there are some things you can not control, surrender, move on.

B- Breathe: When things get hairy, scary, and you feel like you can barely hold on, take a step back, breathe, and be calm.

C- Count your blessings. Even though you have the weight of the world on you right now and feel far from compassionate for others who have things much worse than you do, there is some value in taking a moment to look at the things that are going right today, such as your child’s tantrum-free morning or how your spouse took out the trash…

D- Decompress. Believe it or not, there are many who do not know how to take a break. Some parents don’t even realize that it’s okay to take a break. Take time out to read a book, go out or simply hang out with family or friends. A happy parent is much more productive than a crabby one.

E- Eat nutritiously. We take care of everyone but ourselves…working, chauffeuring, monitoring homework, cooking and so on. Remember to eat breakfast and be sure to eat more than just a power bar for lunch! Nourish your body so you can nourish your mind so you won’t go crazy on top of everything else.

F- Focus on the big picture. Does it really matter that your child insists on wearing his Spiderman pajamas to the supermarket again? You’ve heard it before. Don’t sweat the small stuff (and yes, this is small). When choosing between Spidy and sanity, choose sanity.

G- Go to the gym. Do yoga. Step outside and take a long walk. Take a martial arts or dance class. Just get your body moving. Exercise will not only keep you fit and healthy to do the best parenting job you can (not to mention keep up with the kids) it will also help to clear your mind.

H- Hang up the phone. Sometimes we spend more time on the phone than with the kids, and then we wonder why they act up while we’re on the phone. Reserve some “family only” time so that the kids won’t feel so deprived of your attention and when you do need to converse on the phone, you’ll be able to without interruption.

I- Identify the kind of family you are aiming to be. Have you ever sat down with your family and actually discussed the kind of family you aim to be? Respectful? Kind? Supportive? Discuss those Powerful Words! Get your family together, discuss and create the vision as a team so everyone is on board and knows what they are trying to achieve.

J- Joke around. Don’t take everything so seriously! What makes your hair turn gray today will likely make your face turn beet red with laughter one day down the road.

K- Kiss, hug and show affection. Affection is such a simple thing that can make your family feel more secure as opposed to feeling like they need a therapist! Set the precedent for your family and show that you appreciate one another.

L- Listen to your family. Your children have great stories to tell. Your significant other has dreams about the future. When we listen, we expand our minds and catch all the subtleties that otherwise pass us by. Listening enables us to know what to say and when to say it.

M- Make time for family fun. Shuttling between extracurricular activities all the time? Remember that it’s important to take time out for family fun. Take a vacation, have a family game night, go for a bike ride together. It’s important to do something together and that everyone will enjoy.

N- Negotiate time for the couple. We all love spending time with the kids, but it is just as important for the couple to spend private time together. Rekindle your love every week, whether it’s going out to dinner alone or spending time cuddling while the kids are at Grandma’s house.

O- Open your mind to “the opposition.” You and your partner are a united force, however you may not always agree. Take time to listen to the points of the other person and come to a compromise.

P- Play with your friends. Go to a movie, play golf, go to lunch! Having some adult company, conversation and laughs will make the days more pleasant and manageable.

Q- Quiet your mind. Fretting over the past is as constructive as nailing a cube of Jello to the wall. When it’s time to relax, turn off your mind and let the day go.

R- Recruit some outside support. Need help reaching your personal and family goals? Enlist the help of a coach who will help you deal with present challenges and create action plans to make the most of your future.

S- Simplify your family’s schedule. There really is no need to commit your child to 40 different activities per week. One or two activities during the school year is okay. Really.

T- Teach the lessons you want them to know. Schools do not teach character development, parents do. When you teach your child about respect and teamwork, you get respect and teamwork.

U- Utilize your resources. Did the grandparents volunteer to baby-sit? Did your neighbor offer to tutor your kids in that math you don’t understand? Take them up on their offers. Reaching out for help enables us to collect ourselves and do the things we do well.

V- Value your time. Learn to say “no.” It’s important to be involved and volunteer your time to help with fundraisers and so on, but don’t overextend yourself. It takes time away from your family and robs you of your sanity.

W- Wipe the tears. Yours and theirs. Holding grudges or letting anger and misery simply fester under the surface builds resentment and uneasiness. This is a legacy you do not want to leave.

Y- Yearn to grow and learn. Just because you are a parent does not mean that you no longer can work on expanding your own mind and achieving your own goals. You may need to modify your ambition, but you can still express yourself, volunteer, take courses or even teach!

Z- Zzzzzzzz. Try to make up for that lost sleep. Parenting always seems easier when you are rested.

Have a Powerful (and stress-free) Week!

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Webmaster’s Note: This article was first published in Bay State Parent Magazine. Dr. Robyn is an award-winning columnist, honored by Parenting Publications of America, who writes for that publication.