Lighten up! Today the Temperament and Travel series turns its focus on the trait of Mood, which becomes a key player when children (like grownups!) come into this world just naturally closer to one end of the mood spectrum or the other. Do either of these sound like your little traveler?
Mood: Positive vs. Negative
Positive – Does your child usually look at the world through rose-colored glasses? Does she most often walk into the room with a smile? Does she assume unknown children will be friends?
Negative – Does she frequently anticipate trouble or disappointment, view new children or toys with suspicion, or first see other kids as a potential threat? Does it take a little time for her to be convinced and the clouds to clear?
We’ll take a look at travel with the Positive child in the next installment, but for now I’ll cut to the chase with important tips for travel with the Negative child.
Before You Go:
Understand that “uncertainty of the unknown” can and likely will bring out her lower expectations for your trip, so help her keep her eyes on the prize by sharing pictures of the beaches or city you’ll visit, showing her vacation brochures, and visiting relevant websites ahead of time.
Help assure her she’ll have some control over things, but be very careful you don’t accidentally put her in charge of the vacation when things get difficult.
Along the Way:
Encourage her to try new things, but help assure her she’ll have some options if she doesn’t like them. For example, if she tries the kids’ camp program for an afternoon but doesn’t like it, she won’t have to go back, or if she tries a bite of your salmon pasta and doesn’t like it, she can have a hot dog.
Agree that you’ll go to the museum and see X, Y, Z important things at the top of your list (Mona Lisa, Etruscans…), and let her check them off your guide map as you go. Afterward, you’ll break for lunch, and then do something at the top of her list, which you can keep in your purse to revisit as appropriate.
When her other dominant temperament traits are challenged, it can especially trigger negative feelings, so be sure to honor her other temperament traits and watch for signs. For example, the Negative and Highly Sensitive child may suddenly “hate everything” at the zoo when she is simply overheating and needs to take a shade break with a cold drink. Stay calm and “feed the (real) need.”
Remember any outburst will probably quickly dissipate into a distant memory for your child, so there’s no use in your hanging on to hard feelings the rest of the afternoon. Seize the day and enjoy your vacay!
When your Negative child reaches preschool age, it can be helpful to get her in the habit of using alternative phrases like:
I don’t like it! –> I’d prefer something else.
I don’t want to! –> I’d rather do something else.
Not only does it sound more polite, but it replaces the “all or nothing” kind of thought pattern with a new emphasis on finding a solution–something that will serve her well in travel and in life.
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More tips and advice are on the way! For help for planning travel of every kind–with babies and children of every temperament–in Travels with Baby: The Ultimate Guide for Planning Travel with Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler.
Read More from the Temperament and Travel Series:
Have you seen the latest features at Family Travel 411?
Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning Travels with Baby guidebooks
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