Traveling with young children is an amazing opportunity to create so many memories with your children. The most memorable memories for you may be when your child is throwing himself/herself down on the floor in the airport or screaming bloody murder of the plane! Unfortunately, these things do happen!
Toddlers are going through some major developmental changes, which can contribute, to their increased tantrums. At this stage of development, our little ones have discovered that they can do things themselves. They have gone from having things done for them, to trying to figure out how to do things themselves. During this learning period, children will often throw a number of tantrums out of frustration, exhaustion, hunger, worrying about what is happening next, etc.
So how can you deal with these behaviours while you are traveling?
There are basically two types of strategies that you can use. These strategies can be broken down into 2 different types of reactions. The reactions are as follows:
1. Proactive Reactions:
A proactive reaction is when you consciously choose to do things that may help with your child’s feelings that can stop your child’s need to tantrum to express his/her feelings.
Some examples of Proactive Reactions are:
- Having snacks ready at any given moment. “Hangry” is a real thing.
- Giving your child reminders of what is happening next. Warnings of when they will have to transfer on to the plane. A warning before preparing for take-off and landing so the seat is in the right position.
- Play for a minimum of 10 minutes with your child. This is child-directed play! This can happen on the plane, in the airport, on the bus, in a vehicle, and so on. The child led play adds to your child’s feeling of connection with you. This simple act has a powerful impact on your child’s day.
- Bringing a transitional object with them like a blanket or stuffy that provides comfort when you can’t.
- Keeping to a routine that is similar to home when possible. This simply means having meals, snacks, and naps in the same order that they occur at home. I fully expect that these meals, snacks, and naps may be happening on the fly!
2. Reactive Reactions:
A reactive reaction is what you do after the tantrum has occurred or while it is in progress.
Some examples of Reactive Reactions are:
- Distraction is a common tactic used. There is a time and a place to use this technique. In the middle of a crowded area or in an unsafe place like the water or in the street. With the distraction, you may find that your child has a few more tantrums before he/ she seems ready to move on. I used to carry a few toys in my purse or backpack that I could pull out and use in these moments. If you are willing a movie or tv show can be a great distraction on the plane.
- Giving your child a few minutes on his/her own to calm down and process the moment. I personally find that timeouts are not always effective when we are in a strange place. An alternative is to you time in which is where you go with your child when he/she is taking a break away from the activity where the tantrum occurred.
- Letting the tantrum happen and then offering comfort when it is done. This can be referred to as offering connection. Children will often tantrum when they feel that their connection with a loved one has been affected.
As with all things related to children, you will find that some strategies work really well for one child and not well for another child. With time and patience, you will discover what works best for your child. I wish you all the best traveling with your child!
When you are teaching your child the art of sleeping the best way to be successful is for your child to be placed in the place or sleep (bassinet or crib) awake. People often look at me sideways and say.. “is it that easy?”
Well, it may seem “easy” but the reality is little ones often cry when placed in the crib. It does not have to be difficult. It can take time and there are many things that you can do; however, the first thing you need to remember is that it is not your job to get your child to sleep. It is your job to provide your child with the opportunity to sleep.
I often hear from people that they cannot get their child to fall asleep and it becomes an exercise in frustration to get their child to sleep.
A great deal of time, little ones are falling asleep in someone’s arms and then being transferred to the crib. Put yourself in that little human’s place..
You fell asleep all comfy and cozy in someone’s arms and then you wake up in this crib! You have no idea how you got there. Not sure about you but I would be mad!
Okay, So Now What?
The first step is to make sure you are offering your child the chance to go to sleep when your child is physically ready. Your child should be in the state between not tired yet and overtired. This is where focusing on how much time your child can handle being awake comes in handy (Wake time).
Now that you have an idea of when your child should be ready for sleep, you then place your little one in the crib awake (or at least drowsy). If your little one has fallen asleep in your arms, gently stir your child as they go in the crib so they are aware that they are in the crib. This is when the tears can happen.
If your child is crying you can respond by giving your child a chance to settle on their own, you go be present, or you can try picking up and putting down until your little one falls asleep. I usually recommend that you use the 5 steps until your little one falls asleep. Here is a link to an article ( members only..not a member become one today) that helps with the 5 steps..
It seems to take a long time..
It is important that you look at the clock when you are doing this as it does feel like it takes forever but in reality, it may not be that long. If it is taking more than 15 minutes for more than 4 days for your little one to fall asleep then I would look at the time your little one is awake between periods of sleep.
As your child gets used to going to sleep on their own you will be able to lay your child down and walk out of the room. This dream will soon be your reality!!
Once a child is over 4.5 months of age they will begin the process of producing melatonin. Melatonin is the sleep hormone that allows are little ones to go to sleep and stay asleep for long periods of time. When we use a key phrase to identify that it is time to sleep, it can help with our little ones settling down and preparing for sleep which can cause the melatonin to start to produce.
I have had the opportunity to hear many different key phrases that people use for sleep. The following are some of the most common:
- “Night Night”
- “Sleepy Time”
- “Good Night”
- “Do do”
- “Time for Sleep”
This key phrase comes in really handy in the middle of the night or early morning when your child requires a reminder that it is still time for sleep. When you use your key phrase it is often enough to help your little one attempt to go back to sleep. It basically does 2 things. It reminds them that it is still time for sleep and it allows them to hear your voice which can be very calming.
A key phrase may seem like a very simple tool; however, sometimes it is the small things that make a huge impact!!