Travelling with kids with anxiety
5 tips to make things easier and reduce the anxiety while travelling
Travelling as an adult with anxiety is a very daunting experience so imagine what it is like when you are a child who struggles with anxiety. As adults we are at least in control of where we go, what we do, who we see but a child has all of that handled for them which means they really are heading into the great unknown whenever they are travelling away from everything they know.
We have put together 5 tips to help you have an enjoyable holiday and keep the anxiety to a minimum for the children in your world:
- Let them plan with you. Once you have worked out the logistics of your holiday it’s time to get your kids involved in planning. Get them a scrapbook and print out some pictures of where you are staying and the things you will be doing. Let them create a scrapbook using the images and get them to write what they are looking forward to at the different places. Once they have their scrapbook created then encourage them to get it out regularly to talk about the holiday.
- Involve them in the meal planning. It may seem simple but knowing ahead of time that they will be able to eat what they like will ease their anxiety. Often kids will panic about how they will get food when they are in a new place. By giving them the job of deciding (within reason) what the family will eat for breakfast or what you will eat on the first night or every night, you will ease their minds and give them something to look forward to. They can add this to their scrapbook as well.
- Take their pillow. We all know what it’s like to sleep in a strange bed with a pillow that isn’t moulded the way you like it. By taking your child’s pillow you give them some familiarity at bedtime which will help them settle down each night and have a comfortable night’s sleep.
- Pack an Anti-Anxiety Bag. Create a backpack of things you know calm your child down. Make it a mix of things they love from home such as a favourite toy they sleep with, their favourite books, craft things that they can do while travelling and a few new things that they can discover while you are travelling (think puzzles, new books, colouring in etc).
- Reduce Screen Time. Yes it’s easier said than done but it will make a huge difference in the level of anxiety your child has to deal with while on holidays. Revert to old fashioned travel – playing eye spy, looking for numberplates etc. This keeps their mind busy without the anxiety that screens cause by their very nature. Encourage their imaginations rather than the boredom that comes from staring at a screen for hours on end. Stock up on little prizes you can award during the trip and make up lots of ways they can earn a prize. No child can resist prizes!
Ultimately, you know your child and their limits. Keep these in mind and plan around them so that your own level of stress and anxiety is kept to a minimum. Remember, when mum or dad are stressed the kids pick up on it and then we end up with a snowball effect.