Sometimes, my car becomes an absolute zoo. With my kids and their friends in the backseat, bickering often turns into a distracting screaming match—it’s enough to make me want to tear my hair out. The massive headache is annoying, but the massive safety hazard that fighting can cause is a big deal that needs to be addressed.
Just as I’ve created rules for my home, I do the same for my car and remind my kids about the car’s policies before heading out on the road. I communicate these rules every time we get in the car. These are my secret keys to get my kids to stop fighting on road trips.
Here are the 5 things I do every time we get in the car:
1. I don’t tolerate fighting or yelling in the backseat.
Yelling gives me a headache; but even worse, it creates a huge distraction that causes my attention to be taken off the road. I tell my kids that whoever is able to play nicely and refrain from stirring the sibling pot will earn travel points to a fun local destination like the zoo or the children’s theatre. I praise my kids when they are able to share or deal with conflict without any screaming or creating a scene in the car. To keep my crew happy, I make sure they each have their favorite activities close at hand. Consider road trip Bingo (get a free printable here), math games, felt alphabet boards, and other brain food to keep your kids tuned-in.
2. I use the Quiet Game if the noise level gets too high.
If the noise level becomes deafening, fill their minds with thinking games then play the “quiet game.” Whoever is quiet/silent the longest earns travel points to redeem at the local gas station. This is a great way to keep everyone calm in a fun, engaging way.
3. I reinforce our family values.
I’m constantly reminding my kids of how I expect them to behave and why. I start with “In our car we…” Then, when we pick up my kids’ friends I ask my kids to recite and educate them on the rules of the car.
4. We make the car a No Phone Zone.
Texting and distractions lead to accidents and injuries. As hard as it is to put my phone in the trunk, I do it, every time.
5. I always make sure I’m prepared to feed the animals.
Being cooped up in a car is boring. We cope with the blahs by bringing along healthy, protein filled snacks like rolled chicken tacos and string cheese. When my kids are full and healthy, they’re happier and more calm.