Power Educating

Educating Parents, Teachers, and Children

Kids Driving You Crazy

19 min read
Create a pleasant and safe car ride, every time. No more yelling or arguing kids in the back seat. No more angry shouts from the driver. This method works and gives parents the power they need! It is actually fun!

Are Kids Driving you Crazy in the car with arguing, fussing and fighting?

Driving with Kids

If you have more than one child with you in a car you have experienced the frustration of kids getting rowdy or downright out of control while you are driving.

You might have had a few times when you stopped the car in a parking lot to scold them into submission only to have them act up the minute you are back on the road.

I have a very easy and fun way to get your children to behave properly in the car.

Most parents seem to think that they need to “warn” their children when a consequence is about to happen. Before you begin changing your techniques in disciplining your kids I have a suggestion.

Tape an episode of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and sit to watch it with your children. When the funny videos of a dog who has been naughty shows up pay close attention. Point it out to your children so they pay close attention.

Fido is sitting in the middle of a torn up couch cushion. He won’t look at his owner. He tucks his head. He might hide or turn backward. The dog knows he is caught, he knows he did something wrong.

Point out to your children that they are smarter than the family dog. They know how to behave because they have great parents, teachers and grandparents, even great babysitters who have taught them right from wrong.

Would your children tear up a couch or do whatever the dog’s did in the funny videos? Probably not. Tell the kids that when you are certain they understand the behavior you expect of them, and they choose to misbehave, they can expect a consequence.

Ask if they need any further discussion. Have them talk to each other, talk to you giving easy examples even silly ones. Should you close the freezer door when you are done sneaking ice cream? Should you treat the remote control on the video game correctly or maybe they should jump up and down on it and break it? Silly rules, obvious things.

Then they are curious about what is going to change. Don’t tell them the plans ahead of time. Part of what is going to make this new discipline work is the way you are going to get their attention. You are going to learn to be creative and so very loving and sympathetic when a consequence happens.

For instance, you are going to change your behavior when it comes to the way the kids act in the car.

When the kids are excited to get to a ballgame or a movie is a great time for you to strike. To be able to say, “Oh kids, I am so sorry you are late to the game.” Sympathy that is real and loving will help the consequence focus on their behavior – not on yours.
Do not tell the children what is about to happen.

Set it up and prepare to act the minute your children need it. Please read the rest of this to find out how much fun and how easy it will be to change negative behavior.

Power Educating includes journaling with all articles. Journaling will help you with positive changes you are looking for.

Journal a story about yourself as a child riding in a car with your siblings or other relatives.

If your children are anything like the rest of the worlds you have had to try and drive safely while you are saying, “Mary, stop poking your brother.” “Joe, quit pulling your sisters hair.” “Someone give the baby his blanket and pacifier.”

Journal about the behavior you want to change specifically while riding in the car.

Do you worry about your children being safe when in someone else’s car? Write about it.

Prepare your attack ahead of time and have fun with the following ideas. Ultimately you will tweak the ideas to fit your personality. This topic lends itself to the following plan.

To prepare you will need to have a book, magazine or other reading material in the car with you at all times. You might want to have a bottle of water for you that can be shared with very small children.

If you have a very young child you need to make a plan ahead to have them someplace else. Drop them with a grandparent or have a babysitter come over. I want you to succeed during this first trial on creating a win/win driving experience. That would be very difficult if you had a small baby or child who will cry or distract you from the lesson.

I would be watching ahead of time for shady places to stop the car if I needed. You probably know just how long it will be in the car before your children start getting on each other’s nerves. Plan this drive as carefully as possible. It is also best if the drive takes a few minutes.

That is it…you are prepared!

I live ten minutes from the nearest movie theater. I would plan to take the kids to the theater in the nearest town which is about a fifteen-minute drive. I want to give them time to poke each other and I want them to be naughty.

I am ready! If they behave nicely and don’t need the consequence this time, they will eventually. Be sure to compliment them when you get someplace and they have been sweet and fun to be with. Be specific when you compliment your kids so they can model the same behavior and know you will praise them.

Now, there is no guarantee that your children will be naughty on the one day you plan this. Just keep the book with you and be ready on every drive to do the following behavior modification plan.

One more issue for you and your spouse to figure out you start this behavior plan. After the first trip when you have carefully chosen the day and time of the experience – you will be driving them in the morning to school. Be earlier than normal so you are not late for work.

Also discuss the consequence with your spouse. Do not forewarn the children of your plans. Never reward only one child in the back seat.
You will eventually reward the sneakiest child who can cover up by shouting loudly, “Sally, stop poking Joey. Mom, I tried to make them stop.”Please do yourself a huge favor and stop the disciplines that are not working. Try this.

Once you start this you need to finish it no matter what. Be sure you have a clear schedule – except for children-focused events. They can choose to behave and get to the activities or not.

Remember that your children make choices when they choose to misbehave. When parents are driving it is normal for children to misbehave – or when the parent is on the telephone which for this generation is all the time. (giggle)

Step One: Choose the car trip.

Step Two: Get a book or magazine or any other reading material ready for the next drive.

Step Three: As you all enter the car be sure to ask whichever child is more apt to be annoying to his/her siblings to pick up the book for mommy. Pick up the newspaper for dad.  The child will not suspect a thing even if you never have time to read a book.

Step Four: As you walk to the car repeat this in your head.”My children are smarter than the family dog (or cat) so I will not open my mouth to tell them what to do or how to get me back on the road.”  

You Must Refrain from the continual repetition of, “Stop that.” “If you want dessert you have to finish your dinner.” Ask yourself if they clearly know and understand the rules you set down.

If you can say yes to that question then it is time for you to stop repeating them. Before you drive off be sure the back doors or other escape hatches are locked with the babylock feature found on most cars.

You want to make the children stay inside the car no matter what but you need to remember you are not going to say anything to them once this process starts. 

Step Five: Wait for the opportunity. If the car ride is quiet and everybody is doing well then you don’t need to put the plan into place. But if the children start poking at one another or start yelling and distracting you from driving, pull the car over at the nearest safe place. 

Turn off the car.Take the keys out of the ignition and set them on the dash or beside you so the kids see them.Breathe deeply and chant in your head. “I will not talk. I will not answer one question from the kids. I will stay still until they figure out that they need to be quiet and nice passengers.”

 Step 6: No matter what sit still. Don’t even look at the kids. Open your book and wiggle into a comfortable position. One of my friends even reclines her chair, opens her window and puts her feet up.  She yawns and reads. Do not take a nap. Stay engaged so you are ready to comply with the task of driving them to the movies (or wherever) when they become quiet.  

Now there might be some kind of issue if the car is too hot. Where we live the summer begins in ay and Ends in November so I would be watching ahead of time for shady places to stop. 

PLEASE sit, zip lips shut, read.

No Talking to them.

NO looking at them in the mirror because that is the exact behavior you need to stop doing to drive them safely.

Safety is the issue here. Remember that your children’s lives are at stake. 

Step 7: You are almost through the worst of it. When they are quiet remain silent. It is so hard for parents to do this, me included. Just remain silent. Start the car and pull out to drive again. But, be ready to stop if needed. 

It is hard the first time because we are in such a habit of repeating ourselves and basically accepting misbehavior until we become furious.  I have an older brother (one year) and a younger sister (4 years). I was the bad child.

I would mess with my brother until he hit me and then tattle to get mom to yell at him. Or, I would take my sisters doll and tell her we were going to practice cutting hair.

Then say, “Eww. that is terrible, I am not going to do that do my doll” On long car rides we could make our mom reach back and swing her arm to smack us in the legs.

That was actually fun because we had her full attention and she never really got a grip on us (that was before car seats). This technique would have worked like a charm, on me anyway. 

Step 8:  Repeat the process if they get noisy or misbehave. Depending on their age you will hear things like, “Mom, we are going to miss the movie.” “Mom, let’s go.” Keep your eyes on the book. NO matter what they say. Hopefully you won’t need to do it again, on the first day anyway. But, be ready on all trips from here on out. 

STEP 9: You are done with this lesson. BUT you can’t speak about it. Let the children talk to each other about what happened. They will be so surprised that they won’t know how to handle it. If you usually discuss behavior to death…don’t discuss this. Later that night you and your spouse can have a good giggle as you tell each other about the situation. 

Read on to find ways to deal with it if you are going to be late for your appointment – they will push this even if you are going to be late for work. 

Putting Consequences to Making You Late

This works best if you can get a handle on the behavior when the children are too little to figure out you are lying about some of these ideas. Let’s say you are getting this behavior under control with children who are under six. “Your loud behavior in the car made mommy late for work today so you will need to give me back the minutes I lost.

Since I got home late I have no time to do my chores. Today I was going to clean the bathtub and take out the garbage (whichever tasks they will hate and are appropriate for your child’s age group.)

You need to choose one of these options and do it for me. There are two chores and two children so you two decide which task you will each do. Sometimes assigning a task makes the adult’s life harder. So, in that case do not assign a chore.

Order Pizza for dinner –  the kind of pizza the kids love. When the pizza arrives and smells so good – cook and dish up some eggs for the naught little ones. (Or naughty big ones).  Well, I am so sorry that you two made me late for work today.

As a consequence, you will not have the special pizza that I had planned for dinner. You can have eggs. If your children are old enough to make a peanut butter sandwich you can go as far as leaving bread, peanut butter, jelly and a knife on the counter. (I never let them have jelly because it seemed a bit too sweet.)

You can offer the pizza to your spouse and any children who were not misbehaving. BUT Even if there is one child who was actually quiet in the car or was pressuring the other children to be quiet…don’t give any reward to any children who were in the car.  

I know it is a really hard thing for most parents to do. It is hard for us not to acknowledge that one child actually behaved well. The problem is that an older child will always be heard loudly telling the younger ones to stop making noise. 

You need to look them in the eye and say, “Honey, I can’t monitor everything that happens in the back seat when I am driving. I am sorry if you were an angel the entire trip but I can’t play favorites. You all are in this passenger behavior together. 

If you reward the “good child” you will drive a wedge between your children. Especially if one of them is a step child. You need to be consistent no matter what. I know this will work. I have done it myself. Please get right back up and drive with safety again and again. This is the beginning of the rest of your life as parents.

If you live with your parents (grandparents to your children) you must support one another. NO matter what. If you come home tired from work and your mom or dad want to talk to you about how your son (their grandson) keeps kicking the dogs, stop and talk about it. Discuss the behavior and decide together how to handle it. If you are a step-mother or step-father you have to treat all the children alike.

Even though you secretly love your biological children more…just remember that you want ONE family. One group of adults who want peace. 

This is really Important – Any Adult who drives your children needs to agree to this consequence.

My best friend had this policy and all of her children’s friends followed her rule. Why did they? Because if those children were naughty in the car my friend pulled over and waited until the children were all quiet again.

She would hear, “Stop it. My mom will stop the car and we won’t get to the movie on time if you don’t stop it, so be quiet and sit still.” I look forward to hearing about your success. I want to hear about your problems and I want to hear if you have a solution that works for you. 

Final Journaling: Write about how this is working.

List the children by name and write how you think they feel about the new policy.

Do all of the children cooperate?

Is there one (or more) child with you that needs this lesson to continue over and over?

Do you think this new driving plan is benefiting your children and yourself?

Take a moment to share your experience online.

Power Educating 

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