Tips to Manage Children’s Behaviour whilst travelling
Managing a strong willed child at home can be difficult, but whilst travelling things can seem harder with increased tiredness, new locations and adrenaline spikes throughout the day. I will be honest, we are far from perfect as travelling parents (as the above picture highlights!), but the following tips do seem to help. These are my top tips to manage children’s behaviour whilst travelling.
1. Build in relaxing and down time
Arriving somewhere new I used to fill all of our days with adventures and pack in as much as we could. However, this summer over our three week trip we added in at least half day / full day of relaxing at the hotel / downtime and it did wonders for the everyone.
2. Do activities the children will enjoy
Visiting every temple in Chiang Mai may seem appealing to you but after the third (if your lucky) your little adventurers will fast lose the fascination and you will have a bored child, unwilling to take another step. Our focus is finding the best in family travel so we spend time before we leave on our travels to find activities that I know my children will love. Make a list (I am now partial to forgetting everything) so you can factor these into your time in a destination.
3. Make it enjoyable for your children
We have found that if the children are involved in an activity it will be much more enjoyable for you all. Involvement doesn’t need to full on, it can something small but still a great way to have a child engaging with the activity. Ideas for this are:
- Sit down and research into the place you are going together. My little adventurers love facts and its so easy to find information online. It also helps with the child knowing what the day will entail.
- Give your children a camera for them to capture your travels. You will be surprised how excited they will be of having the chance to play around and take pictures
- If you are visiting a well known site, make a little scavenger hunt / pictorial hunt for the children. My children love clipboards and ticking off things, children love finishing off a task. This is really good idea if you know its going to be a long day.
- If your going into the woods, stop and let the children make some art, stop and rummage around for creatures and unique things. On the way to the Acropolis we saw hundreds of caterpillars, we spent an hour, saving caterpillars from the footpath as many were being squashed.
- Scrap book: Buy a scrap book and give your child a small bag during the day that they can fill with “treasure” to add to the scarp book at night
4. Don’t miss meal times and always have snacks
After a few hours our children will get worn out and hungry which will lead to tantrums (and tears for children and parents alike). When planning your day always make sure you have a good breakfast and stop in a timely fashion for lunch and your evening meal. In addition, our rucksack has a variety of drinks and snacks, to fill in the various hours. Try and get a good balance of different snacks, from fruits, yoghurts and nuts to mini chocolates etc.
5. Put the gadgets down
This applies to children and adults alike! We haven’t taken our iPad on our last three adventures and the children haven’t asked for them. Instead we have found they have started to enjoy drawing, writing and the simpler things in life.
Tip: Buy a new journal, stationary and make a little pack for your children. Get them to write about the place you are visiting, or draw a picture if they cannot write yet, not only is it a great keepsake, having less time in front of electronics really helps with children’s behaviour.
6. Ease up on the sugar
Travelling lends itself to extra treats which you may not give at home. However, we have tried to rein in how much sugar they have as we realised that the lots of treats was leading to more arguments, stubbornness and a growing unwillingness to listen. Even though it may be the easiest way to avoid a huge melt down in the long run, they tend to do more harm then good.
7. Have a routine
I will be honest and say my little adventurers are fantastic at adapting to new routines. We are out later when we are travelling and they are still full of beans and up early the next day. But I would try and stick to a routine that works for your family and not make huge changes. If your children like to sleep around 7 – 8 , stick to it, being out later will usually to lead to more arguments and its not worth the upset.
8. Reward good behaviour
I am thinking less of bribes and more when the children have behaved and things have gone Pinterest well (those days are generally few and far between but we can dream!). I like to give the children a treat, whether it be a favourite snack, buying them a souvenir or getting a swim in before bedtime. I have found this way of rewarding much more conducive to better behaviour and a more willingness to compromise.
9. Choose your battles
I know this may sound like a bit of a cop out, but I have learnt the hard way that it is not worth putting your foot down and enforcing things on every occasion. If your child is strong willed, you will have several moments during the day where you may not agree on things. Having an argument about every little thing will do nothing for your moods and enjoyment.
10. Not worrying about others
As parents we always feel so much pressure to have angelic children and feel like failures when they have a meltdown but rest assured these things happen to all of us. In moments like this, especially on travels, just deal with the situation in a calm and rationale way. Your children are small and probably tired, there has been a lot going on so give them some leeway. Ignore the looks and comments off others and deal with the issues like you would at home.
Travelling with children is amazing and lots of fun, I hope the above helps you deal with any behavioural issues which arise along the way!