Every parent has experienced the stress and frustration that comes from a child melting down or throwing a tantrum in the car. It can feel like there are no options, but here are some things to think about before you take that next trip.
For starters, let's plan for success. A lot of challenging behaviors in the car are the result of kids being bored or needing something. So try this:
Pack a small bag of things for you each of your kids. Depending on the age and stage here are some ideas:
*paper and pencil
*snack that is easily opened
*toy or game
*pack ear plugs for older kids or sensitive kids to help block out the noise when the other siblings are too loud.
Ok, you're prepared and a car meltdown still happens. Darn! It's ok to be frustrated, but don't feel bad. It's not because you did anything wrong, its because your kid is a kid. Try this:
1. Take a few slow deep breaths. Box breathing is one option but any deep breathing will help. Box breathing is like this: inhale 4 counts, hold the breath for 4 counts, exhale 4 counts and hold for 4 counts.
2. Let your child know you hear him/her. That can sound like a lot of different things but here are two ideas. "I know you're tired of being the in car." or "You wish we were there." Be sensitive and use a gentle voice. I remember feeling bored and tired on long car rides, picture how your child is feeling.
3. Decide on your plan. Do you need to stop and take a break, meet a need, stretch your legs? Is it time for a snack, an audio book, or a car game? Maybe you need to empathize with your upset child and still ride out the meltdown and carry on your way. There is no "one size fits all" answer to this. Your "parent super computer" in your head will be calculating the factors and help you decide on your course of action. What ever you choose, stay on the same team as your child. Your relationship is at the heart of all success as a parent!
If you are at a spot where you could use more tools and strategies to address challenging behaviors in your home, reach out to me.
Schedule a free Parent Coaching Consult and learn how the Transformative Parent Coaching Package can move your family from survive to THRIVE.