Outings and holidays
Before going on holiday
For most children a day out or going on a holiday may be exciting and thrilling.
For some children it can make them extremely anxious and unsure of what to expect. If you find the child gets anxious before travelling then preparing them for change will help with this.
Try using a calendar and, for example, show in weeks or days how long it is before you go on holiday. Explain this to the child in terms that he or she can understand such as “we go in 3 weeks – that’s like three of these (pointing to a calendar) when you are at school”.
Try talking about what will happen on the trip – travel to the airport, what the airport is like, what a plane is like, what food will be there when you get there, where you will be staying etc. This process can be similarly done for a day out, telling the child when you are leaving, such as showing a clock face if they can tell the time (and also explaining, for example, that an hour is like the journey to grandma’s or ten minutes is like the journey to school), saying what will happen, who is going, and when you are coming back.
You will know when to start this process from past experience – reassure the child and be honest about what to expect. The amount of information you give will depend on the child’s age and ability to grasp the concepts of time and place. You could also show pictures to the child, or a map of the journey. This will help to reassure them; that they know what is happening next, with whom it is happening, and where it is happening.
Make sure that you are prepared for the journey by taking spare clothes and a drink, making sure the child has regular access to a toilet. Take toys that are not too bulky or heavy but have a choice of several different toys so if the child is getting distractible you can re-engage them with a new game.
Turn-taking games using a pack of cards can be helpful and don’t take up space; games such as happy families for younger children and a standard pack of cards for older children.
If you are driving, make sure the car is well ventilated: if the child gets car-sick be prepared to stop regularly to have a walk around. Place the child on the booster seat so he/she can see out of the window and where they are going. There are some great games around to play on journeys so that children can be interested in the passing views. Audiotapes also offer the child an opportunity of listening to a book that they may not yet be able to read.
While on holiday
If the child is very “fussy” with food think about having something with you that he/she is familiar with to start with. Take a toy or game the child enjoys as well so they have something familiar with them.
If you are travelling far, and you are entering a different time zone which means having dinner later in the day, then be prepared to have a rest with the child so they can enjoy it as well or arrange for the child to eat something earlier.