Now I hate to admit this, but I have screamed back, turned the music up very loud in an effort to drown them out and pulled over and gotten out of the car in a huff (adult-like I know!).
One day I thought there MUST be a better way! So I brainstormed and trialed a few things and now have a much more relaxing car journey with my children and feel SO much safer driving!
So what did I find worked?
- Work out the WHY? Why are they constantly fighting? My 5 year old is very sensitive to sound and my 2 year old knows it! She squeals really loudly just to get a reaction from her, and it works! I then have them both screaming and squealing at each other. Now I cannot reason with my 2 year old enough to get her to stop (believe me I’ve tried!), but by understanding the situation, it helps me keep my cool with my eldest who is just reacting to her environment. So knowing the WHY can help.
- Problem-solve. If you know the WHY and your children are 4 and older, I recommend setting up a time to speak to them about it when everyone is calm. Explain the dangers of you being distracted whilst driving and tell them you think you know WHY they are fighting. Then ask ‘So what do you think we could do to solve this problem? Let’s write down your ideas’. Get a pen and paper and let the ideas roll in. Don’t worry if you don’t get many (or none), it is now that you ask ‘Can I provide some ideas?’ and write down some of your own. If everyone can agree on an idea or a number of ideas, you have something the children have bought into, which makes it easier to implement. However, if you find that they are still fighting, you might like to try the idea below.
- Pull over until the fighting has stopped. Explain in advance that from now on you will need to pull over every time they begin to argue and will not continue driving until they have stopped. This might sound tough, but it shows you mean business in regards to safety and you won’t need to do it often once the message has gotten across. You might like to take your smartphone, a magazine or book to keep yourself busy and until they have quietened down. Now obviously this only works for children who are old enough to understand this concept.
- Car games. These are fun and you can get your children involved in researching a few new ones ahead of time e.g. I spy with my little eye, Number Plates (each player chooses a number between ten and 99, then has to spot their number on a registration plate. Whoever spots their number on a plate wins the game), or About Me (one person has to answer questions about themselves from everyone else for a minute without stopping or answering yes or no – if they do, they’re out).
- DVDs or tablets. I don’t love the idea of sitting kids in front of screens, but for longer journeys it can be real lifesaver. Portable DVD players can allow children to take turns choosing a movie (or agree on one together), or if you have more than one tablet, they can have their own educational games or shows to watch. It’s amazing how quiet the car can get with the help of technology!
For children under 5 you will need to plan ahead! Here are the things I recommend you try (and you might have to do a few of these with each car ride!):
- Bring a lunchbox with favourite snacks (food often keeps children quiet!)
- Bring a writing pad and pencils for EACH child
- Play games like spotting colours or different coloured cars
- Collate a CD with everyone’s favourite music and have a sing-a-long
- If possible take them in separate cars (this may sound drastic but I do it when my tolerance is very low – particularly around PMS time! – and hubby is around to take the second car).
Good luck and safe driving!
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