You’ve booked your Mango flights to Durban and now all that is left to do is carefully pack your bags and prepare yourself and the kids for the trip. It sounds a whole lot easier than it is.
For starters, packing with small children running around your legs can be a savage experience. Once you’ve got that done, there’s the airport processing to face, which children tend to naturally over-complicate. And then there’s the clincher. Once they are on board, previously angelic kids can morph into monsters! Sounding all too familiar? Don’t worry! You are not alone.
Who hasn’t heard friends and ‘other’ parents say that they are dreading their upcoming flight, simply because they are flying with their kids. Well we’ve heard you, and we have put together a few helpful tips for handling what seems to be the inevitable mid-air meltdown.
Goodbye Mid-Air Meltdowns – Hello, Stress-Free Mango Flights to Durban
Chances are, your child hasn’t actually morphed into a sky monster at 32 000 feet. Kids are just as sensitive to change as we are, so their sudden tantrums and terrible behaviour could merely stem from being out of their emotional comfort zone. Then there’s the cramped space issue. Kids don’t like to be closeted, and it’s not something they understand themselves, or know how to communicate. So the next time your child throws an all-mighty tantrum while high up in the sky, try to take a breath and see it for what it is. Then apply the following air-tantrum busters.
- Eliminate the Element of Surprise
- Create Some Rules
- Have Distractions Prepared
You can’t expect to tell a small child “no” and then have no alternative behaviour to direct their attention away from their tantrum. Take along your child’s favourite toy, snacks (even if you don’t approve of snacks, you might have to do so on this sort of occasion), colouring books, iPad/tablet, books, and more.
If your child is of school-going age, you could create a special worksheet or “competition” that they will need to complete while on board. You can arrange for prizes to be awarded after the flight, once all has gone smoothly. It sounds very similar to bribery, but it’s not really!
- Use Mystery & Reward to Your Advantage
Kids love rewards and there’s nothing more intriguing than knowing there is a reward, but not knowing what it is. Before the trip, mention that you are creating a goody bag filled with a variety of treats that your child is sure to love. Mention it a lot and make a big deal about secretly adding to the bag. Then incorporate a points system (this can work quite well in conjunction with the rules list). For every good behavioural trait that your child displays during the trip, make sure that they know there are points attached. The goody bag will only be awarded in the end, if the points all add up sufficiently.
- Be Prepared to Pay the Price & Be Strategically Kind
Kids respond better to situations when they know what to expect, so tell them. Start mentally and emotionally preparing your little onesa few days or weeks before the trip. Explain how the seating and seat belts work, that there will be strangers sitting close by, and that generally, people are expected to be quiet and well-behaved. The more you expose them to what is expected, the easier it will be for them to accept the situation when it’s happening.
Help your child to understand that tantrums on board the aeroplane are unsafe and will come with consequences attached. Perhaps ensure that they know that their privileges or favourite toy will be taken away if they break the “travel rules”. Write the rules down – even allow them to decorate a page of rules – and pop them on the fridge for the weeks leading up to the trip.
Of course, this tactic is useless with an infant. The best way to ensure that the infant isn’t disturbed and fussy for the duration of the flight is to ensure that he/she is kept warm and is well-fed. You could also book a flight that falls over regular nap time, so that your toddler is most likely to fall asleep during or even before the flight. To ensure minimal disruption, ask for priority boarding which will mean that you get to board the flight ahead of other passengers and can be seated and comfortable by the time they arrive.
If you are worried that your child might cause a disturbance (often it simply cannot be helped with infants), make sure that you head into the plane fully prepared. First off, try to get a seat towards the back of the plane, but don’t panic if you can’t. Other passengers will be more forgiving if you own the situation and try to “make nice”. A good idea is to piece together a few nifty goody bags for other passengers. An apologetic gift bag up front will create a sense of niceness among passengers and will result in a softer approach to discomfort felt by any of the other passengers. Remember, adults respond just as well to ‘bribery’ as your small children! Of course, if you ever find yourself in an unlikely confrontational situation with other passengers, call on the assistance of a flight attendant. These professionals are trained to diffuse potentially uncomfortable or aggressive situations in the air.
Mango flights to Durban from Cape Town are around 2 hours long with flights between Johannesburg and Durban being just over an hour. Fortunately, that isn’t too long to fend off the disdainful stares of other passengers if your child decides to misbehave regardless of your pre-trip planning efforts.