When planning a family vacation,parents often imagine a perfect trip,with perfectly behaved children,creating perfect memories that their children can one day pass down to future generations.
However,the reality is that kids rarely take a vacation from arguing with their siblings and most family trips resemble the one in National Lampoon’s Family Vacation.
There’s no question that parents spend a lot of time and certainly a lot of money planning a family vacation. Although children should be told ahead of time what will be expected of them,parents need to remain flexible and patient as well.Having expectations that are too high may set everyone up for frustration down the road.
When planning your trip,know your child’s activity level.If you have a son who needs to run and play,taking him to three museums in one day may not be a good idea. Be sure to schedule in time for naps,relaxation, and spontaneous outings.
Rewarding good behavior is more productive than punishing bad behavior. Here are a few ideas to help you be proactive to the inevitable whining, crying, and tattling.
A Penny For Your Thoughts – A Quarter For Good Behavior!
Before leaving on your trip, stop at your local bank and pick up a roll of quarters ($10) for each child. Let each child know that he/she has the potential to have $10 when you arrive at your destination. However, at the first shout of “Mom! He’s touching me!”or the calling of a bad name, take away one quarter from the misbehaving child. When you arrive at your destination,your children are free to spend their remaining quarters on whatever they choose. The better the behavior – the more money they will have!
You may want to allow children to “earn” back lost quarters with extra good manners or by helping Dad carry in the suitcases. Whatever you decide, most kids end up keeping most of their quarters, and Mom and Dad have usually earned enough for a candy bar!
Kids love feeling in charge! If a child is working extra hard at behaving, allow him to choose the restaurant the family will stop at next. If you’re a little concerned that his dietary choices will not match-up with the rest of the family,give him several “safe choices” from which to choose.
Other choices you can give to a well-behaving child are which movie to watch or game to play in the car,first choice of sleeping arrangements at the hotel, or allow him to choose a family activity to do while on vacation.
Switch ‘em, Change ‘em
Erma Bombeck once said that you should never have more children than you have car windows. It doesn’t matter if you have a standard four passenger sedan or an eight passenger SUV, there will be one passenger seat that all your children will deem “the best seat” and they will fight like cats and dogs to sit in that particular seat.
They may not remember to clean their rooms or finish their homework, but they certainly never forget who sat in that seat last week and for how long. Some parents have found it helpful to rotate seating arrangements on a regular basis. Either weekly or daily, every child moves one seat to his/her left,giving everyone a chance to sit in the best seat.On a particularly long car trip, other parents have found it productive to reward the “prized seat” to the best behaving child. If your child is old enough and large enough to sit up front, allow her to have a few hours in the front passenger seat.
The change of scenery and feeling “grown-up” will definitely improve her spirits. Plus,the kids in the back will love to have Mom or Dad sit with them for a little while!
Side note – These quarters are a life-saver if a rainy vacation day leaves you with no other option than to spend a few hours in the local arcade room!