How To Beat Travel Tantrums

Wed 31st May 2023

As thousands of families take advantage of summer weather to drive away on a staycation this half-term, there is one worry that all parents will have on their mind, how to keep their little passengers happy.

But one of the UK’s leading family psychologists has revealed a list of top tips to avoid experiencing those tantrums from the back seat of the car.

Dr Sandra Wheatley explains that simple matters like telling the kids exactly how long they will be in the car, and delegating different tasks amongst the children can help things calm, but that if you need to some respite, turn to tech to turn things down.

She said: Let the kids take it in turns to listen to a song or choose a story – that in itself, while it might not necessarily stop them squabbling about whose turn it is, will at least focus them on something positive and get them talking to each other, and soon they’ll start laughing, and hopefully dancing in their seats.”

Planning the correct diet for a long journey is crucial, so sugary snacks and drinks could provide a needless sugar-high meltdown, but equally, milky drinks could increase the chance of car sickness. 

“It’s a good idea to avoid milky drinks as that can make children feel yucky, and when they’re so young they can’t necessarily tell you, so it could prompt tantrums and whining if they’ve got a tummy ache. Avoid anything that’s likely to provoke a bad mood,” Dr Wheatley says.

One option might be to include lots of appropriate car-based games, offer the children frequent breaks and don’t forget to reward the young ones after they have completed the journey. She said: “Have some sucky sweets, preferably with low or no sugar, ready so they can have them as a reward for being good at the end.”