My favorite time of year is summer because it’s vacation time!  Life doesn’t get much better when you can relax in the front seat of the car, kick your feet up on the dash board, and enjoy a family road trip with your kids.  That is, until the whining starts.  It’s tempting to reach for your smartphone or those noise canceling headphones.  But do something different and try one of these fun solutions so you can survive the family road trip.  Doing so will help calm the chaos, keep your sanity, and restore your family harmony:

Share the control

We all want a say in our fate and kids aren’t any different.  Give them a sense of power by letting them plan part of the trip.  For example, have each child pick an attraction to visit, or a favorite restaurant to enjoy the next family meal.  One of the best ways I know how to avoid power struggles during the journey is to give kids a say in things like music choices, snacks, or whether or not to take the “scenic” route.

Play some cool car games

Games are a great way to include the whole family and help pass the time from point A to point B.  You can use the radio to play Name that Tune.  Simply look out the window and you can play Spot the State License Plate.  Use your curiosity and play Twenty Questions.   If you want to really change things up, let the kids have all the power for a while.  Pull out the atlas and let them quiz the parents on capitals and states.  This game put parents in the hot seat while teaching youngsters a bit about the country.  For those times you are stuck in city traffic, try playing Red light/Green light.  Here’s how to play.  First, divide your car into two teams:  Green team and the Red team.  When you “make a light” the green team gets a point.  When you get stopped at a light, the Red team scores.  This game gives everyone in the car a point of focus, teaches a kid about emotional self-regulation while winning and losing points.  Best of all, helps prevent road rage from parents and whining from kids who ask “are we there yet.”

Don’t forget books and aluminum foil

Kids love audio books and coloring books.  You can also pull out a come aluminum foil.  Simply run down to your local discount store and purchase a role of aluminum foil.  Why aluminum foil?  Letting kids wrap stuff with aluminum foil can keep ‘em distracted for hours.  They will stay busy wrapping their sippy cups and everything else in the car.  Afterward, they can crunch it up and make fun sculptures with the foil.

Leave during bedtime

When it comes to those long-and-drawn-out rides, one of the best ways to kill some time and avoid whining is to leave at bedtime.   Just after the seat belts are on and the lights go out your kids will drift off into dream land for hours on the road.  For the light sleepers, you can pull out the portable DVD player and give them a fun distraction.  Of course, movies can sabotage family time, so be sure to limit TV time in the car.

Don’t forget one-on-one time

Go ahead and set aside time each day for some one-on-one attention for each of your children.  On those long road trips you can divide and conquer.  Here’s what I mean.  Simply pick two restaurants close to each other and each parent can take a child.  Or, pull in to a nice park and eat in separate sections of the park to ensure that quality time will happen.  Keep in mind that when kids get consistent positive attention, they are less likely to act out in negative ways, like throwing wrappers out the car window or ugly faces at the passenger in the next car.

A Point To Ponder

Children who are known, heard, and understood tend to feel chosen and very special.  They have a good sense of belonging and family togetherness.  In the end, they whine less and behave better.


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Steve Cuffari

Author: Steve Cuffari For many, Steve Cuffari is the mentor that parents call on to make their parenting style warmer, easier and more affective. He is the founder of inTouch Parenting, a company devoted to helping today's parents calm the chaos, raise emotionally intelligent kids, and nurture families that thrive.         read more about Steve Cuffari here...

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