How To Get Your Kids To Behave In The Car

This year, Irish Road Safety Week will take place from Monday 7 October to Sunday 13 October.

Kids have an ability to ‘drive parents to distraction’ at the best of times but if a parent is driving a car then there is a danger to everyone in the car.

Children don’t mean to be distracting but if for example, a young baby cries in the car, of course, a parent will be distracted.

Equally, older kids can be distracting by complaining, crying or if they have siblings in the car who are arguing amongst themselves.

From a young age, your children will need to understand the importance of behaving in the car, why safety matters and why their parents need to pay attention to the road but how do you make them understand?

Here are some tips on getting your kids to behave in the car:

Do the basics

Before you hit the road, it always helps to make sure the kiddies have been to the toilet and that they have things to keep them busy in the car. These things may not teach them to behave in the car, but they will keep them distracted for a little while at least.

Travel games are a good idea, books, toys and you could even play a movie for kiddies in the back with portable DVD players. We don’t advise giving the kids your phone in the car as they’ll always want it!

Another good tip is to put on audiobooks or music that your kids will enjoy. Snacks and drinks are another good idea - depending on your children’s age and ability to feed themselves safely in the car. 

Go through the rules

From the time your kiddies are babies, talk to them about behaving in the car. Make sure your children understand why seat belts are required and why each child needs a certain size car seat.

Have a ‘no move’ rule so that if your child takes off their seat belt or starts fighting with their siblings, the car will stop, and they’ll end up sitting in the car for longer.

If this happens, pull over safely and refuse to move until your children are behaving and turn off music or anything else you have been using to distract them, so they know there is no treats, entertainment or car motion till they behave. 

Kids in the back of a car
Make sure your kids understand how the road works and how dangerous it can be.

Safety first

Make sure your kids understand how the road works and how dangerous it can be. Teach them to understand that parents need to pay attention to the road and if they drop a toy or something, they will have to leave it there until it is safe to retrieve it.

Explain more about seat belts and how they work as well as how the car works and why you need to be in control of it. Give young kids their own little steering wheel to play with and encourage them to steer with two hands so they understand why you need to sit forward and be in control of your car. 

No fighting

If your children are having an argument then there is every chance you could get distracted and need to intervene, but this shouldn’t happen often. Your children should be encouraged to respect each other in the car and know not to start petty squabbles.

This also includes parents as it can be hard to not get wound up when your child is acting up. React calmly and let them learn from you how to behave in the car. 

Be honest

No one wants to scare children, but they do need to understand the dangers in cars if a driver becomes distracted and loses control of the car. Talk to your kids about car accidents and how a small crash can cause them injuries.

Remind your children of staying safe and why travelling must be taken seriously. Prepare your kids for car journeys and tell them when they are going out. Make sure you tell them if they will need to be in the car for longer journeys too. 

Emma Hayes

Emma Hayes is a busy mum to two girls aged 17 and 11 and is married to her childhood sweetheart.

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