Fear Of Flying Help For Children: 5 Proven Strategies
Curbing Flying Anxiety In Children
Kids are unpredictable aren’t they? One child will race ahead to board the plane, while another will buck like a rodeo bronco when faced with air travel. So if you have a child more like the latter, what do you do? Fortunately, I’ve culled the most often-cited fear of flying help for children strategies from travel and mental health experts into one post, so you’ll have everything you need at a glance.
Fear Of Flying Help For Children | Tip 1: Preparation
I like this piece of information from traveling-kids.blogspot.com:
Talking to your child about the flight ahead of time, and telling them what will happen can help with anxiety. For some kids it’s good if you go into some detail: tell them that you will board the plane, find your seat, sit down, and then put on your seat belts. Try to describe what happens at take off and landing too, so that these things don’t come as a complete surprise. Reading books, or watching movies about airplanes can help with preparation too.
The many sounds of an airplane ride can be overwhelming to children. Part of your preparation should not only be discussing the various airplane sounds, but also simulating them, especially if they have had negative experiences with flight before. Here’s a quote from from child psychologist Tamar Chansky:
“Sometimes children have been on a flight with a lot of turbulence or get afraid by the normal sounds of the plane– help them get familiar by “simulating” a flight in your living room. Have the child make the sounds of the wings, the wheels, etc. Car washes are great approximaters of some of the sounds and sensations of a flight.”
A kid-friendly site like this one is also a good option for children.
Tip 2: Discussing the Flight
It seems simple, but helping children overcome fear can be as simple as talking to them about the plane ride. Moreover, it is a powerful strategy to combat kids fear of flying. Teresa Plowright in travelwithkids.tv had this to say on the subject:
It’s never a good idea to dismiss a child’s frights with glib reassurances. Talk to your child about any worries about a plane trip; often, it can be a release simply to express their anxieties.
DO: give your child a chance to speak about any anxieties they might have.
DON’T: influence your child with your own concerns about security.
Just like in adults, having the chance to discuss thoughts, feelings and emotions is often extremely therapeutic for children with flying anxieties. Fear in children is often from the unknown, so make sure yours has the opportunity to bring up anything that is causing them concern.
Tip 3: Distractions
This is an oldie but a goody. Just like in other situations where you are trying to calm a child, distracting and/or comforting is often just what they need. Hug them, give them a treat, sing a song or play a game; strategies that work off the plane will often work on it.
Tip 4: Stay Calm
Children take their cues from you in all aspects of life. If you experience a fear of flying yourself, address it so that you can lead your child by example by remaining calm. Our guides on Overcoming The Fear Of Flying and Fear Of Flying Tips are great resources (if we do say so ourselves).
Tip 5: Medication
This option is usually for more extreme cases, but some parents give their children medication such as Gravol, which is prescribed for motion sickness and nausea. It is advisable to discuss this option with a physician. Fear of flying help for children can also be found in therapy. This is also a common and effective option, and you can check with local counseling centers to find a provider that works with anxiety in children.
Fear, Flying, and Your Child – an Educational Opportunity
Despite your best efforts, your child may still feel some level of fear and anxiety with regards to flying. At every opportunity, you should reassure your child that feeling this way is normal, and that they are not “bad” or “wrong” for being scared.
Ultimately, every activity in life carries some degree of risk along with it. While you may not be able to convey this idea to your young children, you can certainly go a long way towards soothing their fears about flying.