As a mom of child with anxiety, I know that the disruptions to routines caused by travel can be the start of all sorts of problems.
We love traveling, and try to take advantage of short trips near and far for fun, and to enhance our homeschooling. But, since we’re raising four kids, two of whom struggle with anxiety, our trips take a bit of extra planning to make sure our anxious children have confidence when they’re embarking on new adventures.
Tips For Traveling With Anxious Kids
Traveling with kids who struggle with anxiety requires a bit of extra planning and effort, but the rewards are worth it. Your kids get to enjoy and learn from rich experiences, meet new people, and build greater confidence. To make trips run smoothly, though, you need to remember a few things:
It’s up to you to make sure that some of the stumbling blocks are pushed out of the way. While I don’t think that everything that might be tough for your kiddo should be removed from his path, making some effort to remove a few sources of anxiety is always worth it.
If you know your kiddo struggles with meeting new people, role play introductions and conversation starters in the weeks leading up to your trip. Make it a game and have fun with all of your kids.
Stash some comfort items in a new bag or backpack for each of your kiddos (especially the ones who struggle with anxiety) and add a few new surprises like we did with these handmade sister mermaid dolls recently.
Address Specific Issues
Make sure you plan for specific struggles you know your kiddos face. We have one who still has trouble with bedwetting. Our anxious kiddo not only struggles with accidents overnight when routines are disrupted, she often has trouble while awake too, and has had some recent health struggles related to her urinary tract because of her anxiety.
We needed to plan for this accordingly, especially when traveling.
While your kiddo’s struggle might not be bedwetting, you can still tackle it in the same way. Think about the thing with which your anxious kid struggles most, and purchase things to help solve that problem while you’re away from home. You’re ready for anything!
Talk With Your Kids
Keeping the lines of communication open goes a long way to building confidence in your kids. Talk with them before the trip. Let your anxious kids know the itinerary and what to expect when they get there.
While you’re on your trip, check in often with your kids. Develop some kind of signal they can use when feeling overstimulated or overwhelmed. Then respect it.
Getting one more activity in or seeing one last thing isn’t as important as teaching your child to have confidence in his or her own understanding of his or her needs. The surest way to raise confident kids is to show confidence in their own understanding of themselves.
Expect the Unexpected
No matter how much you plan ahead, address issues you know your kiddos face, or keep lines of communication open, there will be snafus. Kids are kids…the unexpected is to be expected when you’re raising little people. Be prepared for anything… Above all, though, be in the moment and enjoy your kids as they discover all that travel brings.
Do you have other ideas for raising confident kids besides travel? Or, do you have other travel tips for hitting the road with anxious kids? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment!