30 tips to keep your kids happy (and busy) on flights
- First time flying?
- Family disaster last time?
- Worried how your sensitive child will cope?
Here are my 30 best activities for in-flight success for you, your child and your seat mates too this March break!
- Consider a small back pack for your child. Rolling suitcases are fun but a backpack or fanny pack offers weight, and remember that weight is calming. Respect the safety rule: don't let your child carry more than 10 per cent of his or her body weight.
- Use earplugs. Maybe for you too?
- Or think about earphones or headsets help your child block out sounds. You don't have to turn on the music to block out noise.
- Sipping through a straw is calming. Choose juice boxes or bring along your own straws for drinks.
- Pack favourite toys? This isn't the time to leave your child's favourite toys at home.
- Make a surprise bag with a few inexpensive toys (or recycle some oldies but goodies). Put them in an opaque bag for your child to feel and choose without peeking for added fun.
- Plan movement breaks before the meltdowns! Set a timer and get up and move every half hour.
- Practice "Chair Yoga" in your air-plane seat.
- Think of slow, sustained stretches you can do while sitting: reach up for the ceiling and down to your toes.
- Try seated tip toes. Point your toes, with heels up. Repeat X10. They will prevent blood clots for adults too!
- Chair push ups: see if you can lift your own body weight off your seat by pushing up with your hands.
- Crunchy snacks are calming. Pack some to bring along. Or choose crunchy snacks along the way.
- Chewy snacks can be calming, too, as is sucking on a candy. (Sorry about the candy suggestion!)
- Play finger hugs and tugs to keep hands busy and add some calming movement.
- Bring along audio books or a recording of you or your child reading a favourite story for a surprise.
- Play I spy with my little eye.
- Play I hear with my little ear.
- Make and take I spy bags: hide small toys in a lot of dry rice in a sealable, clear, plastic bag. See how many you
- Mini magnetic board games abound. They are lap size and have parts that are less likely to fall down and roll under your seat.
- Practice self-hugs by grabbing and squeezing your own elbows.
- Brush off the butterfly (gently) or mosquito (perhaps with a bit more pressure) along arms and legs. Remember that deep pressure is calming.
- Bring gum. Yes, gum. Chewing is calming. Chewing and swallowing can also help with ear pain due to cabin pressure.
- Bring along your child's favourite snuggle blanket, pillow, shirt, hoodie or sweater. Plane rides are not be the best time to try out new clothes.
- Bring along other handheld/lap-friendly games, like a deck of cards.
- A mini battery-operated fan can help with a bit of fresh air.
- Practise progressive muscle relaxation with your child. Squeeze and relax each body part.
- Silent toys to blow, like a pipe with a string to circle or ball to keep afloat are quiet and engaging (there are some in the party favours section of stores). And blowing is another calming activity.
- Have quiet hand fidgets with you. Find some to squeeze (not throw).
- My praxis favourite: how many things can you do or make with a string and your hands?
- Finally: make cards with words or drawings of the above activities: have your child pick the one to do next.
Flights are just one of many new experiences that many children with sensory processing disorder's struggle with. For additional guidance and solutions you can learn more in my ebook Sensory and Behaviour Strategies.