9 Ways to Stop the Fighting on Road Trips
If you've taken a family vacation by car, you know the challenges of keeping everyone happy as you travel. Hours of closeness in a car is a breeding ground for sibling fights.
Next time you pack the suitcase and load the car, don't forget these ideas for cutting down on backseat conflict.
1. Have a Plan. If you can keep kids occupied, the odds of them fighting will drop.Fighting often happens when kids are bored, especially if you are traveling for several hours or even a couple of days. Try breaking up the time with a plan, kind of like a day at school. A loose schedule might look like this:
- Morning 8-10 snack on breakfast food, read a story to them, or listen to one on dvd,play a game car.
- Lunch 12-1: stop at a rest stop, eat lunch, run around
- Afternoon: watch a dvd, choose another story to listen to on tape, pick another car game to play, read another book.
2. For long road trips, invest in treats. Go to the dollar store, stock up on toys, books or anything that will occupy them for a time and let them choose one toy from the bag each day or one in the morning and one in the afternoon, or however often you choose.
3. Rewards. Some may call it bribery, and if that's the case, so be it. A parent has to do what a parent has to do. Rewards need to be immediate, and sugar-free. Here's an idea: Get a couple of rolls of quarters and some small containers or bags to put the min. Give each child a container and five or so quarters. The rest of the quarters go into the "kitty." Explain to your kids that they can earn money to spend on the road trip -and this is the only way they're going to get money. A quarter is taken away for bad behavior and given for good.
4. Focus. On a regular basis, give each child your full attention. Sometimes kids fight because they want mom or dad's attention. Be interested in your kids and what they are saying and doing when they are not fighting. If they see that good behavior gets your attention more than bad, they'll get the message.
5. Try to ignore fighting. Don't jump in the middle of every little squabble. See if they can work it out and only step in when it gets out of hand. The issue is the noise, not the fight. Explain that in order for you to drive safely, they need to use quieter voices in the car so you can concentrate on driving.
6. No Tattling. Don't listen to complaints about who did what to whom or who did it first.Your only concern should be the noise that distracts you from driving. "Your fighting is not my business. But your loud voices distract me from trying to drive safely. Please keep the noise down."
7. Stop the car. If the noise of fighting doesn't stop, pull over to the side of the road.Calmly explain to your kids that you cannot drive safely when they are making so much noise, so it needs to stop now. "I will not drive until the noisy fighting stops and then wait at least 4 or 5 minutes. When they've have settled down, get back in and continue without any comments. Be consistent and at the first sign of raised voices,pull over again. They will get your message loud and clear.
8. Learn car games. Do your homework and have a list of car games to play. Teach games that you play only when you are in the car: I Spy, The Alphabet Game, I see Something (name a color), Count License Plates,"I'm going on a trip and I am going to take…" (Each person repeats what the person before has said and adds his own item to the list.)
9. Rotate seats. Have the kids change seats at car stops. It offers a whole new perspective.A little preparation will go along way to keeping peace in the car. Don't just plan for the vacation, plan for the traveling time too. It just might turn a chaotic ride into fun family memories.
Author Note: Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach's wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks. She authored the Sports Parenting Survival Guide Series and has recently launched a podcasting series for sports parents. Visit her Facebook Page!