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Car Travel

What to do:

Self-talk. Say to yourself, "It's ok. We will safely get where we need to go, even if if my child doesn't always think it's fun to be in the car for a long time. I can deal with this."

Empathy. Tell yourself, "I understand that my child may sometimes not like to stop playing and go places in the car. I don't always want to go somewhere, too."

Teach. Tell yourself, "I can help my child learn how to be a happy road buddy in the car."

Praise and Distract. Count numbers of cars going by, name colors you see, look for animals, and sing songs to keep your child's ride fun. Talk about what you are seeing outside or inside the car. Using videos on phone or car "screens" can be a way to keep your child quiet; but try talking and singing first to encourage play with you.

For longer trips, use Grandma's Rule and Beat the Clock. Let your child know that good behavior on trips brings rewards. Set the timer on your phone for 5 or 10 minutes. Then, if your child whines about getting a treat or drink, say, "When you've sat in your seat until the timer rings without whining, then you can have a snack and drink." Be prepared to pull over and give him the treat and drink when the timer rings. Then get back on the road.

Make A Rule about Cellphone Use. Children who are bored or have had easy access to screens will demand them when they can't entertain themselves. To stop your child from demanding your cellphone in the car, make it a safety rule. Say, "The rule is, I must have my phone up here with me so I'll have it in case of an emergency." When your child demands use of the phone, simply restate the rule.

Monitor Snacks on Long Trips. Highly sugared or carbonated foods or beverages may not only increase a child's activity level, but they may also increase the chance of your child becoming carsick. Stick to protein snacks or lightly salted ones to keep her healthy and happy.

Make a Rule about Seat Belt/Car Seats. The rule? The car doesn't go unless all are buckled in.

What not to do:

Don't Complain. If you don't wear a seat belt or complain about it, your child will not understand why she has to and will complain, too.

Don't Pay Attention to Your Child's Yelling About Being Buckled in or Being in Back Seat, Unless She Unfastens Her Seat Belt. Say to yourself, "I know my child is safe and will only fight it temporarily. Her safety is my responsibility, as is the seat belt rule and sitting in the back seat in a car seat, booster seat or seat belt."

Don't Spank. Spanking or threatening to spank your child for getting out of her car seat or seat belt will only hurt you both, and won't teach your child how to follow the rule and stay buckled up. You can't be a caring adult and use violence or threats of violence at the same time.

Don't Talk On Your Phone While Driving. Talking on your phone while driving takes your attention away from your child and he road. Using a phone while driving is said to be as distracting to the driver's ability to focus on the road as having two alcoholic drinks before driving. It also encourages your child to demand to use the phone when you are using it all the time.

The authors and Raised with Love and Limits Foundation disclaim responsibility for any harmful consequences, loss, injury or damage associated with the use and application of information or advice contained in these prescriptions and on this website. These protocols are clinical guidelines that must be used in conjunction with critical thinking and critical judgment.