Jet-setting is the fastest way to connect with places and people around the world. Everyday, thousands of flights carry people to far-away destinations. For many, it can be a daunting and anxiety-inducing experience. This is especially true for children on their first flight.
With travel restrictions loosening and travel becoming more possible, you and your child may have an upcoming flight. Here are some ways to set a good and healthy precedent and ease any plane anxiety your child may feel.
First, demystify the travel process with your kid. Talk to them about your destination and how to get there: you’ll need to pack, get to the airport on time, pass through TSA, and board the airplane. Walk them through each step so they aren’t left to wonder what the travel process will look like. It may also relax your child to know the steps you will take to ensure a smooth flight.
You may want to curate the media your child consumes in the months prior to the flight. Steer clear of media that depicts planes in peril; it may frighten your child and plant a seed of fear. This is an easy precaution that will benefit you and your child before the flight.
Once you’ve set a good precedent before the flight, it’s time to fill the space between destinations with activities. Books are excellent in moments like this (and anytime!). Coloring books are great for stimulating a child’s imagination and preventing boredom. Most modern airplanes are equipped with TV monitors on the back of every seat. Be sure to bring headphones with wire cables, as the monitors are not Bluetooth-compatible. On shorter plane rides movies are only available to fill a portion of the in-flight entertainment.
For many, even adults, experiencing turbulence can induce a lot of anxiety. It can be especially upsetting for children. It will help your child to have something to do, and hold onto, if the plane experiences turbulence. They can distract themselves with a book, coloring book, or a stuffed animal. Explain to your child that turbulence is a normal occurrence and should not be feared. Talking them through the turbulence can also be a good way to ease their worries.
Taking off and landing are much easier when chewing gum. It will keep your ears from feeling too pressurized. For your mini-traveler, this can also help ease the rush and discomfort during the takeoff and landing.
If you can choose the flight time, see if a red-eye flight matches your child’s sleeping habits. It may help them adjust easier to different time zones—and they can sleep during the flight. If you depart in the evening, hopefully they’ll be so exhausted they sleep through the night. This may be the best option for children who have a lot of anxiety.
For kids, flying may seem daunting and wild. They might be equal parts intrigued and nervous. You can ease their concerns before arriving at the airport and during takeoff by maintaining a casual manner. Keeping your own travel stress under control will help your child understand and accept plane travel as a normal and easy way to get from place to place. It’s a chance for you and your child to enjoy time together with a book or a movie—and it’s an adventure!