We’ve all been there. You are trying to drive. The kids are in the back seat yelling, screaming, crying, and whining. You want nothing more than to pull the car over and start yelling, screaming, crying, or whining yourself. But, you have a place that you need to get to, so you hold on to that bit of sanity you have left, and continue to drive to your destination.
How, you ask, can you make a drive with one or more children less chaotic? Well, I am here to tell you how.
Strategy Number One: Set Ground Rules
Kids need guidelines. Talk with your children about the type of behavior you expect in the vehicle. Set rules for traveling in the vehicle and be consistent in enforcing these rules.
Safety is of the utmost importance; therefore, the first rule should be that everyone in the vehicle is to remain properly restrained for the entire vehicle trip. Do not allow children to wiggle out of car seats or unfasten seat belts. If any child in your vehicle should disobey this rule, immediately pull over. Ensure that the child is properly restrained before pulling back out into traffic. Explain to the children that this type of behavior will not be tolerated. Age-appropriate punishment should enforced when you get home.
The second rule for children riding in your vehicle should be keeping your hands and feet to yourself. This should minimize the amount of arguing between children. If at all possible, separate children so that there is an empty seat between them. If this is not possible, explain to each child what part of the vehicle is “their area.” Remind children that their entire body, including all extremities, should remain in their area for the full duration of every ride.
The third rule should be no screaming. If a child is screaming, it is a huge distraction to you as a driver. Remind your children that they should not yell while in the vehicle. If they begin to raise their voice, reprimand them. Age-appropriate punishment may be needed if they do not accept this rule.
You may need to set additional rules. You must decide what you need out of your children in order to keep your focus on the task of driving. Enforce any rules that will help accomplish this task.
Strategy Number Two: Play Games
Children like to be entertained. If a favorite CD just isn’t doing the trick, try a game.
The Letter Game is a favorite for kids and adults of all ages. One family member chooses a letter, and everyone tries to name words that start with the letter. Children as young as three can try to help think of words. This game is extremely educational for young children, but you will also find the game enjoyable.
There are also several other games you can play in the vehicle, such as naming license plates or simply singing silly songs. If nothing else, The Quiet Game is a great choice for a minute or two of relaxation. Shhh, first person to talk loses.
Strategy Number Three: Take Advantage of Electronics
When all else fails, you can always count on electronics. Equipping your vehicle with a DVD player may help to keep the children quiet. Although, these can sometimes be a pain for short trips, and it is not uncommon for children to argue over what movie they want to watch. Another option is Gameboys, PSPs, Nintendo DS, or other portable video game devices. If each child has their own to play in the vehicle, driving may be less stressful for you.
Implement these three strategies, and you should regain your sanity while driving in no time.