I’ll keep it brief today. After my last parenting seminar, a mom walked up to me and said, “Steve, we are headed to a big family reunion, and I have some travel worries. I’m concerned about their behavior before, during, and after this big event. Help!” My response?

“Share your expectations in a kind and loving manner, before you go.”

Chat with ‘em about going on the trip. Make it fun and ask loads of thinking questions. Thinking questions are a powerful way to stimulate the frontal lobe of the brain. They create mental imagery which helps children think through and reflect on what’s expected of them. Here are a few quick examples:

For your energetic child who loves to be spontaneous, consider asking:

“Since we are flying, everyone has to sit real close together. What kinds of rules do you think we have to follow when on the airplane? Can you guess what they might be?”

“When we are at the hotel, do we use our inside voice or our outside voice? Do we run in the hallways or do we walk in the hallways? Why do you think we do these things?”

For your shy, introverted child, consider asking:

“When your cousin Emma wants to give you a big hug to say hello, would it be best for you to give her a hug or a handshake?”

For your picky eater, consider asking:

“What can we do if you don’t like what’s being served for the family meal?”  “Would you like to hear how others solve that problem?”

For the child with ants in his pants, consider asking:

“What’s a good way to ask to be excused from the table? How do you ask?” or, “What can you do on the airplane when you get bored and want to move around?”

Family gatherings can be a real joy if everyone prepares for the changes that are sure to come.

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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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