9 Tips on Managing Tantrums while Flying with Toddler
Traveling this holiday and scared about the airplane meltdown? You're in great company. Some tips to help you survive.
1. First, as scared as you may be, know that you can only do so much to control the situation and you won’t be the first or the last person in the world with a crying child on a plane. This is not your fault and it is not an “issue” that you can solve. So if and when the meltdown happens, make sure to stay calm, do your best, and most important of all, don't worry about others.
2. Start by doing your best to get your trip off on the right foot. Make sure your child is well-rested before boarding (a good night sleep does wonders) and some energy has been let out before boarding. Important: Don't bank on your child sleeping through the whole flight, setting expectations can lead to a lot of frustration on both ends (we've been there!).
3. Bring lots of little things to pass the time. We like to do a packing cube of books, play-doh, stickers, post-its, new toys and even bubbles to entertain during the trip. You may use all of them up in the first 20 minutes but you’ll find creative ways to keep it fresh.
4. Bring snacks, a ton of them! Snacks generally had more success than toys for kids under 2. Bring different types of snacks and bribing snacks (aka high value treats) and dispense them slowly. You can even make it a game by filling a plastic cup with a little at a time and offering smaller portions.
5. Use the iPad, but with caution! We are all about survival mode when it comes to travel and avoiding tantrums, while the iPad is a great distractor with fun shows and apps it can be a double-edged sword if it runs out of battery or has some tech issues. Babies don’t understand technology so before you pull out the iPad make sure what you want to show is working because they can cause a good deal of tantrums if they don’t function properly.
6. Use pictures / home videos instead of iPad. Got lots of pictures on your phone? Now is the time to pull them up! Young kids love looking at pictures of themselves and their family. It’s a fun and less stimulating activity than a game or a show.
7. When the meltdown happens and it can’t be contained, GET UP (if you can). A change of location gives a child the opportunity to reset themselves. While there are not many places to go, even taking a toddler to the back of the plane, or see the bathroom can make an impact.
8. Take turns. If you have help, use it! It’s about keeping you sane as much as your child so when you’re about to go crazy it’s okay to let go and accept help in handling the situation. While it may not help the tantrum, it will help you through the tantrum.
9. It’s okay to give up and ride it out. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. There are good flights and there are really bad flights and you just can’t control for everything. If there is nothing you can do, the best thing to do is to take a breath, apologize if it makes you feel better, but most importantly move on. You can’t control your child’s feels as much as you can control your seat mate’s so don’t feel bad. There will be better flights in the future, promise!