Fear of taking your toddler on holiday in case they have a ‘travel tantrum’ is common among parents. However, you shouldn't let your fear of your little one throwing a tantrum ruin your family travel plans. It can be very fun to travel with kids, but it does have its challenges. At Pottiagogo, we have eight ways you can try and stop toddler tantrums while travelling so you can enjoy your time away.
1. Keep Calm and Try Not to React
The first thing to think about when managing a child’s tantrum is how to manage yourself. Don’t worry or stress about what anyone else thinks, concentrate on you, your little and keeping calm.
When your child throws a tantrum, fight the temptation to scream back. Instead, look right in their direction and start talking very quietly and calmly. This should encourage your child to calm down in order that they can listen.. This can be an effective technique. Another great technique is to carry on your business at the airport or on the plane without reacting to their tantrums, so they eventually realise that it doesn't work to gain your attention.
2. Snacks - and plenty of them!
Tiredness, hunger, fatigue and overstimulation are the four main causes of travel tantrums. Arm yourself with a bag full of healthy snacks and inexpensive surprise toys and games that you can use during the flight at various points (don’t carry any toy that makes a loud noise, trust me that can be very annoying for other passengers). Make sure you have a convenient drink for take-off and landing, to help stop your child's ears from popping, which might also cause an upset.
Take advantage of play areas and child-friendly spaces at the airport by letting your little one burn as much energy as possible before you board the aircraft and avoid sugar treats or sweets before the flight, so that your child is not wound up with too much energy!
3. Prevention is better than ‘no’
A sure fire way to spark a toddler meltdown? Using the term no. Rather than telling your child no, come up with ways to distract and engage your little one before the travel tantrum begins to brew. Wherever possible, offer your child options so they feel like they're in control - for example, if your child tries to climb on a baggage trolley, instead of shouting ‘no’ ask them if they’d like to read a story or go and spot the planes out of the window etc., aim to make the alternative option sound more appealing!
4. Distract, distract, distract!
A travel tantrum is better avoided by keeping your child occupied. Come armed with plenty of games and activities in addition to your bag of toys and snacks to keep your child entertained. Tell him or her fun stories (the plane or the place you're visiting can work well) or play games like 'How fast can we get to the gate?’.
Load up your gadgets with plenty of shows and games as well; although spending 4 hours in an enclosed space listening to Peppa Pig episodes might be your worst nightmare, it’ll keep your child quiet, happy and make the trip a much more pleasant experience for all.
5. Don’t reward bad behaviour
If your child starts crying because they want sweets from the Airport gift shop, don't reward the tantrum by giving them what they want as a fast fix. Instead, use distraction methods and silent words to calm your little one down so they start to understand that screaming won’t get your child what they want.
Top Tip: You could use a star chart to reward good behaviour — for example , every time they do well, your child gets a star and once they get to five stars, they get a treat!
6. A hug works wonders
If your child hits the complete breakdown point where, because they are so angry, they can't see or hear anything, it can make you upset too. Pick up your kids, instead, and just keep them in a loving hug. A calming, caring embrace will often melt away the tension of both you and your toddler. It is the simple actions that count.
If you are on a plane, the space your travel tantrum toddler requires can be hard to get. Therefore, try taking them down the aisle for a walk or show them all the interesting things in the airport such as automatic lights or hand dryers.
7. Keep your cool
When your child gets upset on an aeroplane, just stay calm and forgive those tutting around you - most people on the flight have already had children of their own too, and understand how it is. Don't feel like you're incompetent or somehow being an unfit parent — you’re a parent who’s venturing to a whole new country with your child, nothing can scare you off. Just breathe and carry on with what you need to do. If you do receive a dirty look from a tutting passenger, it’s a reflection on them, not you.
8. Be realistic
Keeping your goals realistic is crucial too. Kids can and will probably get overtired or over-excited during a flight, triggering a travel tantrum, but that's just what they're doing. And no, the flight won't be the best part of your holiday (changing a nappy in a small airline cubicle isn't the idea of a picnic for anyone), but once you've done it, you've got the perfect family holiday ahead of you!