Toddler Road Trip Tips?

How can I keep my toddler entertained on road trips?
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ByKate Roberts, PhD, licensed clinical psychologist in Salem, Massachusetts
Clinical Psychologist
Updated
Mar 2017
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The easy answer — and the one most parents give — is to put on a DVD or hand over your iPad preloaded with a movie. But that isn’t necessarily the best one. Often we reach for technology to keep our kids entertained because it’s readily available and it does work.

But you know that lots of screen time isn’t good for kids, and you want him to learn how to self-manage and self-soothe, instead of always needing technology. (Plus, do you really want sticky fingerprints all over your tablet?)

Instead of grabbing the iPad right off the bat, put together a trip bag filled with toys like manipulatives, counting games, puzzles and activities. (We like mess-free drawing toys — there are a lot of choices!) Then dole the goodies out gradually throughout the trip, so she stays interested.

She’ll be especially engaged if you’re doing an activity with her. You can make animals out of tin foil and seeing if she can copy you, or draw pictures together. Using motor skills helps to keep her brain stimulated so she keeps moving, in a sense, even though she’s restrained in her car seat.

You can also try a reward system: Make a bag of tickets and hand one out on a regular basis (every 15 to 20 minutes or so), maybe for spotting a red car or identifying a letter on a sign — the more tickets she accumulates, the bigger “prize” you can award when you reach your destination.

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