In The Car

Here are some tips to help you keep your “cool” on the road.

Plan Ahead

Set Rules:
For example, keep seat belts fastened at all times; keep hand, feet, and objects to yourself. Don’t start the car unless the rules are being followed.

Take a Pack:
Have children pack a backpack (or bag) with things to keep them occupied and comfortable (books, tapes, games, snacks, etc.).

Use Rewards:
Establish a reward for good behavior, for example, stopping at the video store and renting a movie.

In the Car

Navigator Role:
Children like to feel useful and can be put in charge of reading road signs, watching for the right exit, or picking the next gas station. On a long trip, let your child mark the route on a map with the highlighter as you travel.

Counting Games:
Count billboards on each side of the road, out-of-state or weird license plates; number of cows or horses (if traveling in the country.)

Take Turns:
Give each child a turn in deciding which tape to play or radio station to tune in. This can cut down on complaints such as “he always gets to choose the music.”

Fighting:
Ignore fighting and compliment them when they are behaving well.

Set Consequences:
Let children know what the consequences are for misbehavior, for example, losing the privilege of stopping at the library or renting a video. Remember, consequences work only when you consistently follow through.

When All Else Fails

Stop the car:
Find a safe place to pull off the road. Take some deep breaths and say: “I don’t want to drive when you are €¦(fighting, arguing, etc.) If we can’t solve the problem, I’m going to turn around and drive home.” When everyone is calm, take a few minutes to try to negotiate a solution. If nothing works, drive home.

You may reprint these tip sheets, free and without special permission, provided that you include the following copyright statement: © King County Library System, Parent Trust and Washington State PTA.