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?