Many parents are taking about upcoming trips and most are worried; worried because last year’s vacation was a disaster. Meltdowns, long car rides, tantrum throwing in public, un-restful night’s sleep…..
Here are a few tips for preparing for a successful summer getaway:
Before you go:
Develop ground rules so there are no surprises. Sit down as a family and make a contract (no matter how young the child is) and bring it with you, encourage them to discuss what they want to do while you are visiting, and what rules should be in place, along with consequences if these rules are broken. This can include by is not limited to:
- If we are in public and you are having a difficult time, tell us, so we don’t have a meltdown in public.
- You may get ONE souvenir when we get there, under $10.00( up to parents). Letting them know ahead of time, will decrease the chance of them asking for everything in sight.
- If you _______________ (insert behaviors here, hit, bite, kick, scream) at us or your siblings you will have ______________(consequences). Immediate consequences work best. Make sure there are more than one behavior and consequence listed.
- Follow through with these rules, if you don’t children will keep doing it. It’s up to you to set the standard and the boundaries.
What to Pack:
- In long car rides or on planes, pack activities that your child can easily access; their DS, coloring book, reading material, travel-sized games. *While in the car or on the plane surprise them with a new toy. This will be exciting for the kids and a new activity to focus their energy on.
- Snacks. Making sure kiddos have a snack every few hours is a key for happy travels. Keeping a cooler of healthy, protein rich snacks with you is ideal for keeping their brain chemistry optimal and reducing meltdowns. If your child is on a special diet, bring those items as well, just because their on vacation, does not mean that their bodies can handle foods that can be damaging to their system. Fruit, nuts, cheese, yogurt (keep it frozen overnight and it will stay cold for hours), peanut butter sandwiches, veggies and hummus.
- Pack vitamins and supplements (yours too). This is imperative for a stress-free vacation. If we forget for a few days, that is understandable, but for most kids, vacations are exciting, and along with exciting, bad behaviors can emerge. Individually bag and label their supplements for each day and time of dosage; carry them with you; this will insure they are getting the fuel they need.
- Let them help you pack. As frustrating as it may be, when they know what’s in their suitcase, and they picked it out, your kids will most likely be apt to wear it, not fuss over it, and feel a sense of pride for helping. Many kids who have a difficult time adjusting to new surroundings find that bringing their blanket and pillow from home (some even sheets) help them sleep better and feel more comfortable in new surroundings.
I like Michele Borba’s tips (Today Show Contributor and Parenting Expert) http://www.micheleborba.com/blog/2010/07/22/back-seat-sanity-savers-for-road-trips/
Please add your own success tips. We hope you have a wonderful summer and a stress-free vacation!
In Good Health,
Emily Roberts, MA, LPC
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