Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What to say?

I confess to having a writer's block for this blog right now. Perhaps it is the relentless summer heat? Perhaps it is my career transition?

I will vent today.

I just got back from visiting my parents. On the plane ride home, there was a young couple traveling with their two lively young boys - perhaps 1 and 3 years old. I cringed, over and over, as I heard their sharp, rebuking voices to everything the children did:


I gave them compassionate smiles, I affirmed "Oh, what dear boys...," but, mostly, I winced.

We have to stop this! We can't keep raising our little ones with this negative tone.

I think of a line from therapy - "Reactivity breeds reactivity" - are you getting the results you desire when you speak so sharply to your little one? I wonder, what do you feel inside yourself when someone speaks harshly to you? I freeze up, I feel blocked. I do not feel receptive, I do not hear.

What are our children feeling when we speak this way, over and over? Have you ever thought about how much of their behavior is being tamped down? Reprimanded? Angrily assessed? What must that be like to have your every movement negated? What are children learning from this? What do they "take away" from this experience?

It is developmentally right on for a one and three year old to be frisky in their seats on an airplane. It is developmentally right on for children of this age to have new, challenging behavior during this very new experience.

Expect the unexpected. Use a lighter voice, a softer touch, and a sense of humor. Pack some special books and activities for your travel. Teach them how to handle stressful new situations by modeling the appropriate behavior.

There - that's my vent. Thanks for listening!


  1. Yes, you are right on.
    However, coming home from Peru, I had a mom with a maybe 8 year old and and 18 month-ish girl.
    She gave the 8 year old 2 seats to sleep in, and let the 18 month old stand behind my seat where she was allowed to latch and unlatch the tray, hang, kick, and scream for attention. I did ask nicely if she could please put the child on her seat because it was uncomfortable for me, but Mom just gave me a shrug and she won't sit smile.
    I felt like crying.
    Tips for flying w/ toddlers.
    Preview, practice, and bring a bag filed with things that engage and distract a little one. Including food, snacks, drinks.
    An occasional kick or scream or cry is fine by me, I've been there, but 6 hours was pure hell.
    OK, I feel better now, lol!

  2. I guess Mom & Dad forgot the benadryl ;)

  3. I hope I didn't sound unsupportive of parents traveling with young children. It is just plain hard. (Especially airplanes, trains, and buses - when your parenting skills are tested in full view of all the other passengers.) The whole experience can be so draining. But, I'm convinced parents will get much more appropriate behavior from their children with a kind, calm, understanding voice, rather than either of these two extremes - the permissive "oh, my, I can't control my child" or the authoritarian, angry voice of "LISTEN TO ME NOW!" Here's to parents daring to travel with their little ones!