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Keep the Peace on the Road

Brought to you in partnership with American School Counselor Association.

Pack an Activity Bag

Dreading the idea of trying to keep your children from arguing for hours in the car? We've got tips to help stack the deck in your favor on your next family vacation: Divert your children's attention by filling a bag with crayons, paper for drawing, books, snacks, drinks, puzzle books, a deck of playing cards, colorforms, stickers, etc. Make one bag for each child and let them choose what to put in it. If bickering starts, use your bag of tricks to calm things down.

Divide and Conquer

As delightful as it is to imagine that children could sit together quietly in the back seat while you and your partner catch up on things in the front, sometimes an alternate seating plan helps to ensure family peace. Change places each time you make a stop (and switch adult drivers) so that everyone gets a different seat for the next part of the trip. With a new perspective and a little space between them, children may forget their antsiness.

Make Frequent Stops

We often try to push through the journey in order to start having fun at our final destination. But if the process of getting there adds tension, then is the pushing really worth it? Kids (and adults) can only stay confined for a relatively short amount of time. So, if tempers are escalating, consider taking frequent stops to stretch, run around, and expend some of that energy in a positive way. By mapping out the stopping points ahead of time, you can answer ''Are we there yet?'' with a simple ''No, but we are going to be stopping in about ten minutes and then we can have a picnic/play tag/eat an ice cream/ (fill in what works for your children).''

Play Games

From finding license plates for different states, to creating phrases from license plate letters, to alphabet and memory games, one of the best ways to relieve tension between siblings is to work collaboratively on a family game. For as long as you can stand playing or singing songs, this method usually works to change the mood.

Tune Out

Sometimes the best activity for a child is to wear a set of headphones and quietly listen to what she wants to hear. Whether enjoying music or taped stories, your child can calm down and then rejoin the family in a better mood. Investing in a cassette player with headphones can make a trip much more harmonious for all.


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