Getting your toddler ready for a trip can be an adventure in itself! Whether you're going on a quick getaway or a big journey, a little preparation goes a long way. So we asked our behavior expert, Claire Lerner, MSW, LCSW, what parents should keep in mind when heading out of town with their toddler. Plus, she shares some pro tips that will keep toddler turbulence at bay.
Depending on the age of your toddler Claire suggests:
- Show them on a calendar what day you will be leaving and don’t tell them more than a few days in advance, as toddlers don’t have a firm sense of time.
- Let them know what to expect. Share who will be there, how it is different from home, and what you will be doing there. You can include visuals: photos of family/friends they will see, and what the place they will be staying looks like. The more familiar you can help your child be with what to expect, the less anxious they are likely to be.
If your child tends to struggle with a change in routine, these tips will help as well:
- Bring items from home that are comforting for them.
- Give your child appropriate control/choices within reasonable limits. For example, not forcing them to engage in an activity they are hesitant about. The “have-to” may be that they go with the family to the event/activity, but once there, they decide how/if they participate. Forcing often leads to more anxiety and resistance. Giving them space to observe makes it more likely they will join in when they are ready.
Overall, managing your expectations will be key. Expect and prepare for resistance and meltdowns — that will reduce your frustration and disappointment when/if your child has a hard time. Remind yourself that you have a great kid having a hard time. They need you to acknowledge/validate their discomfort and be their ro
So what are realistic expectations parents should have when it comes to traveling with a toddler? This depends on your child’s temperament. If they love novelty and thrive on new experiences, tend to go with the flow, and are generally adaptable, you can expect that things will go well. If you have a child who doesn’t like change and is inflexible by nature or needs things to be precisely the way they expect, you can anticipate that traveling may be challenging. However, by following the guidance above, you can help your toddler prepare for what’s to come and help mitigate mile-high meltdowns no matter where you're heading.
Learn more ways to manage your toddler’s behavior no matter where you are with our class, Toddler Behavior: Tantrums, Hitting, Power Struggles & More, led by Claire. There are so many moments in toddlerhood where we find ourselves thinking,“... What do I do now?”. This class is a comprehensive guide to handling behavior in children ages 15 months to 5 years. You’ll learn easy-to-implement strategies that can help you navigate any tricky toddler behavior calmly & confidently.