One of my favorite article sleuths sent me this to me – “Come Cry With Me.” There’s been a lot of ink out there about the perils of being on planes with parents, babies and children, bantering between many parents and those want family sections on planes or childfree flights, and even… …an April Fool’s joke by Ryanair. But I have seen less on great tips for parents to help ensure well-behaved kids on planes. Here’s what children’s book author and mother, Jane Tara thinks, and is worth of passing on to parents… Tara’s lessons for parents and young flyers: “HELL is someone else’s children on a long-haul flight. But don’t automatically blame the youngsters. Children who misbehave usually do so because they are allowed to by their parents. I’ve travelled extensively with my children, aged 12 and seven, and I admit that I’ve always boarded with some apprehension and a quiet prayer: “Please, let my kids behave.” And they have. I’ve taught them travel etiquette from a young age. I’ve made sure they know how to behave. I don’t want my children to bother other people and, somewhat selfishly, I don’t want them to bother me. Travelling is my great passion and I’ve always wanted to share that with my children, not struggle through it with them. These are some of the things I’ve taught them.
No kicking. I’ve had a child kick the back of my seat continuously from Tokyo to Hong Kong and when I politely asked his parents to ask him to stop, they behaved as if I was being unreasonable. They were unreasonable and their son was a monster. Under no circumstances should your child kick the seat in front. I usually remove my children’s shoes on long-haul flights, just in case they kick accidentally.
Be prepared. Have your child carry a separate bag, with carefully chosen boredom busters inside. Keep smaller toys and games in Ziploc bags, for easy access. There’s nothing more frustrating than searching a backpack for one elusive piece of Lego.
Ensure your child always wears shoes to the toilet. You’d be surprised how many people don’t.
Don’t let your child run up and down the aisles, ever. They need to learn to be patient, and to sit in their seats. Children who run along the aisles with parents behind, smiling wearily, are irritating for all other passengers. If your child is restless, take him or her regularly to the back of the plane to stretch and play a few games. Then it’s back to the seat.
Don’t let your child stand up and peer over the seat at the passengers behind. What might appear cute to you can wear thin on others quickly.
For younger children, break the flight into sections to help pass the time: sleep time, play time, reading time, movie time, meal time, stretching time.
Encourage your child to play or read alone. You shouldn’t be expected to provide constant entertainment. A bit of effort in this department when they’re younger means you’ll have independent little travellers before you know it.
Reinforce the need to be polite, patient and quiet. Children need to know that flight attendants have other people to deal with, and they are not the only ones on the plane. If children know what is expected of them, they will most likely exceed your expectations. Kids are like that.” Until more airlines offer childfree flights, and I have to sit next to or near parents and their kids on planes, I want to it be parents like Jane Tara and what I predict are her well-behaved kids! What other suggestions do you have?
I discovered you’d posted my article via an alert. I have kids, and run a kids travel book company, but I too prefer my flights hassle free. You’re right when you say that my kids would be well-behaved on a plane. They are great travellers. I know lots who are, but I wish more parents expected the same from their kids. It’s those parents who give all travelling families a bad name. Anyway, thanks for reposting my article. It made my day! Jane Tara 🙂
Thanks for writing — I thought they were great tips! Here we talk a lot about the childfree perspective, and I also wanted to hear about this topic from a parent like yourself~L
I hope word really spreads on this one! I too, was the victim of a seat-kicking child from Chicago to LA. I asked the parent to step in and she made one lame attempt, then threw on a sleep mask and promptly zonked out while her child went to town on my chair for the next three hours. I think next time I may outsource my complaints to the airline attendants, but does that really work either? *Sigh*
I would counsel parents to be realistic about their children’s ability to behave on a flight, especially those that are long. My own parents didn’t allow me to be put on a plane until I was six years old and they were relatively sure that I wouldn’t have a meltdown. I was briefed by my mother well before the flight as to what type of behavior was expected of me and informed of the consequences (read: punishment) that would happen if I misbehaved.
Parenthood, to my mind, involves a lot of self-sacrifice. And some of those sacrifices might mean keeping vacations close to home, or asking friends and relatives to visit rather than making the trip with kids in tow. There is an age at which children are simply too young to travel. To wit: wait until your children are older before even considering putting them on an airplane — not just for the sake of the other passengers, but for the sake of the children.
Why can’t we other passengers just spray the kid with a little squirt of water, like you do when you’re teaching a kitten not to claw the furniture? And, how about lowering the drinking age on airline flights? A little kidsize shot of pepperming schnapps “cough medicine” ought to do the trick for a few hours.
Seriously, though, there are people of all ages who are rude and inconsiderate on an airline flight. However much children annoy me, I generally find adults more aggravating on a flight. I’ve never had a kid kick the back of my seat, but I’ve had adults use the back of my seat to haul themselves out of their seats, like my headrest is their own personal springboard and I don’t exist. I’ve never had a child whack me in the face with a carry-on they were swinging wildly down the aisle.