Colorado, California, and eventually Florida for some family fun. We plan on building sand castles, boogie boarding in the waves, eating lots of fresh seafood, and grabbing our flashlights and a net to catch tiny crabs on the beach at night. Vacation can always sound exciting prior to the trip…until the first meltdown. Here are a few tried-and-true parenting tools I use to help me stay sane:
- Pack an entertainment kit – this kit includes DVD, movies, Leapfrog ipad, reading books, and coloring books with crayons.
- Create an itinerary – Before I had a kid I would never consider planning my vacation days. I would just have a list of places and things I would like to see and do. Unfortunately with kiddos, this fly by the seat kind of attitude doesn’t work so well – kids seem to operate best when structure is in place.
- Put the oxygen mask on you first – let’s face it, kids are going to have some kind of temper tantrum. When this happens, the first step is to emotionally regulate yourself before attempting to help your child. It’s hard to keep calm in the moment, so it’s best to cool down before reacting. Remember, the way we talk to our child is how she will eventually talk to herself, and ultimately us when she is older.
- Keep redirecting – if you frequently tend to say “No” and/or “Don’t”, your child will tend to tune you out. Instead of telling your child what not to do, recommend a different activity that supports positive behavior vs. misbehavior. For example, if your child is running around the pool, you could say, “quick, pretend you are walking a tight rope!” instead of “no running!” This warms your child up to you later explaining why running isn’t safe around a pool. Kids don’t have all the tools to manage situations, so if parents use anger and/or control, the relationship will continue to break down. Want a long-term relationship with your child? Start early by slowing down and talking to them vs. telling them what to do.
- Offer choices – prevent a child’s annoying “NO!” by offering your child choices. Kids who have the opportunity to choose tend to feel a sense of self-empowerment; therefore, alleviating a power struggle with you. For example, “would you like to go to bed now or in 5 minutes?”