Travelling with children can be a challenge on its own. But when you add to this that they have a fear of flying, the thought of going to the airport can be much more stressful for the child, and the parent. We have put together several strategies for helping your child overcome a fear of flying. This will help you travel with a great deal less fuss and hassle.
Help your child prepare for the flight
Take the time to talk with your child in the weeks leading up to your flight so they understand what they can expect as a part of your trip. Explain the different things they will experience when riding on an airplane so they don’t react to the fear should something unfamiliar crop up and surprise them.
Explain the process of being at the airport as a story where they will the experience adventure of checking in, exploring the airport lounge, and boarding the plane to go to an exciting place.
When the flight encounters air turbulence describe this as being like a road with some bumpy bits, and landing like being a fun ride at an amusement park. Craft the story for them so it is interesting, even exciting so they will catch your excitement and look forward to the flight.
Ask if they are concerned with any specific part of flying and take the time to listen and support them accordingly.
Show them what an airplane really looks like
Take your child to the airport to see an airplane if possible. If you don’t live near an airport and can’t help them become familiar with the sights and sounds of aircraft, find some suitable videos on YouTube that show how take-off and landing works.
The aim with this is to help them become familiar and comfortable with the characteristics of planes, and hopefully, feed the sense of excitement at the thought of riding on one.
Take the lead
Do all that you can to demonstrate that you are calm and at ease with the process of flying, particularly during the flight itself. If you let your child see that you are stressed or struggling with a fear of flying they will be impacted by your energy.
This will feed their fear as they will believe that you are fearful for some reason that they too should be. Even though it may be extremely difficult to relax while flying with a child, you will do a lot more to support them by acting calm. This will reduce the transference of fear and anxiety from you to your child and do a lot in helping your child overcome a fear of flying.
Comfort and reassurance
If you find that you are facing protests against sitting down or putting on the seatbelt grim your child during the flight, take some time to comfort them and provide reassurance that everything is going to be fine.
In some cases, it is likely that they want a hug or need to hold your hand. You could also choose to tell them a story or sing them a lullaby to calm them down. Be patient and provide the comfort that they need in the best way you can.
You could also bring along a comfort item that your child has; such as a blanket or a teddy. Bringing a familiar item along during the flight can do a lot to help calm your child. They will tend to feel less sad having their favorite toy with them on the plane.
Use diversion tactics
Distracting your child during the flight can be one of the best ways to avoid anxiety becoming a problem for them. Bringing some of their favourite toys, books or games can do a lot to help. If they are sleeping, let them be. This can make the journey much easier to take.
If you can book your flight for a time when your child is normally asleep this can make the process so much easier to get through. Quite often it is the takeoff or landing that cause the most worry. The occasional turbulence can be a bit of a fright, but if you keep a smile on your face and make out that you are having fun, your child is more likely to take their cues from you rather than the situation.
If they are fearful, talk with them about the fun things they are looking forward to. Take their mind off the present and get them to focus on the future.
Travelling with children has its own challenges, particularly if they have a fear of flying. You’ll need to have patience and make an effort to show that travel is a fun thing, and it is a stress-free adventure. Do all that you need to backed by love and affection, and you’ll succeed in helping your child overcome a fear of flying.