While traveling with young children often can be an ordeal, holiday car trips seem to take on a life of their own in the treasury of family lore about "horrible experience we can now laugh at." Wanda Draper, an expert on children at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center, suggests that there are solutions to keeping the kids at least somewhat happy and the parents reasonably sane during such trips.
Concerning the frequently asked question, "Are we there yet?," smaller children usually have very little concept of time and space, so parents should answer how far there is to go in terms youngsters can understand. "You might say to a a young child, |We'll be there when we stop and sleep two more times.' Or you might say that |After some snacks and some play, it won't be too long until we reach our destination.'"
Draper even has answers for older kids (seven-13). They can be asked to chart out how long it will take to get to the next major town. "This way, you are allowing them to use their minds, which tends to quiet down their bodies, which are very confined by the car." Even such simple devices as counting restaurant billboards or trucks or doing physical things like playing portable electronic games, cards, or taking along a board game can bring peace in the backs seat.
Parents must remember that, when children argue at home, they can walk from the dispute. In the confines of a car, the situation is different. Here are solutions she...