Tough Situation: Flying High
By the time you get through airport security and board the plane, you've already done a ton of waiting. Add in strangers and loud noises and you're practically begging for a tantrum. "Younger toddlers can be overwhelmed by all the sensory stimulation," notes Jayne Singer, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at Children's Hospital Boston. "And those closer to age 3 probably understand that they're going up in the air, which can be scary for them."
How to Help Leading up to the day of departure, build positive anticipation for the journey by pointing out planes flying by in the sky or giving your child a toy airplane to play with. When you pack for the flight, be sure to include both old and new toys for the trip. "Novelty goes a long way," says Parents advisor Jenn Berman, Psy.D., author of SuperBaby: 12 Ways to Give Your Child a Head Start in the First 3 Years. "Go to the airport prepared with plenty of toys and activities that you know your kid likes -- but also save something special to engage him on the plane, like a new set of crayons or a book that he's never seen before, which will be extra cool."
At the airport, let your kid burn energy before you board. Have him help push a small suitcase around the waiting area and ride the escalators. Once you're up in the air, narrate everything. "Flying may be unfamiliar, but if you give young toddlers the words to understand the experience it can help reduce their anxiety," says Dr. Berman.