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, DVDs, games, snacks, etc.).

Use Rewards:
Establish a reward for good behavior, for example, playing a favorite podcast.

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 what to listen to. This can cut down on complaints such as “he always gets to choose the music.”

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.