When parents take the kids on a plane, it can either be a source of stress, or a really fun and enjoyable adventure. How can a parent make sure that their kids enjoy a flight? Here are the top 5 ways to make flying a more fun experience for the kids:
1. Educate them
Make sure the kids know what is going to happen. Sit down with the each one before ever leaving for the family trip. Tell them what it will be like going through the airport. Clearly tell them about the luggage lines, the many people they will see. Take a few moments to explain the security process. If the kids don’t know it is coming, the stress of the metal detector and tension of people in line will make the kids nervous.
Let them know the line is just to keep everyone safe, and not a big deal. Explain what they will see when the family boards the plane, what it will feel like at take-off, and in the air. If kids know what is coming, they’re much less likely to get scared or nervous.
2. Make them comfortable
Going through the airport, allow plenty of time, so if the kids get tired or overstimulated, the family can stop in an empty boarding area and rest for a minute. Once on the plane, ask the flight attendant for pillows, to encourage the kids to settle down for a nap. Have snacks available, and drinks as needed.
Individual juice boxes might be a good idea, so that they can be used in a single sitting and disposed of easily. Take the kids to the bathroom, and show them how to use the facilities on a plane.
3. Turn the flight into an adventure
In the weeks before the trip, make sure to talk positively about the whole experience of flying. Build their anticipation – compare takeoff to a fun ride at the amusement park, and tell them it is one of your favorite parts of travel. As the parent talks about a plane flight with a big smile on their face, the child will look forward to it as a new adventure, and something fun to tell their friends about when they get home.
If the kids think they will be the envy of their schoolmates, they’ll really embrace the experience.
4. Provide individual entertainment
What does each child like to do with their time? Provide that. If one likes to read, bring a book or Kindle for them. If one child can sit with a DS for hours – by all means, bring it along. Bring a tablet with headphones, and have some of their favorite movies loaded. They can’t all watch at once, but promise that they’ll each have a turn.
Once the plane is in the air, if the kids lean against a pillow, reading a book until they drop off for a nap, it makes for a very relaxing flight for Mom.
5. Model the positive
If a child sees Mom tense and stressed when the plane is about to take off, what will happen with that child? Of course, they will see the plane flight as something scary. If Mom is laughing and smiles while the pilot revs up the plane, it will signal something fun about to happen. All through the airport, when boarding the plane, and getting seated, if Mom has a cheerful attitude, the kids will not start to tense up when thinking about the plane taking off and flying through the air.
If a parent is well prepared with the right supplies, has briefed the kids ahead of time about what to expect, and provides for their needs while in the air, they’re much more likely to hear “Grandma, you wouldn’t believe how much fun we had flying here. It was so cool!”