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Traveling by plane is a boring, physically challenging endeavor for almost everyone, but especially for children with behavioral challenges. Yet, that's no reason to stop traveling.

Once you reach your destination, whether that be visiting family and friends, going on a vacation, or attending a school event out of state, you'll find that the plane ride really was worth it - as long as you take the time to plan the plane trip and have some tricks up your sleeve to manage the travel and your child's behavior.

Read on to learn how to do just that when traveling with a child who has behavioral issues.

"I'm Bored, Tired, and Hungry!"

  • When flying, children tend to get bored, hungry, and tired. Depending on the duration of your flight, you'll want to bring a number of distractions, snacks, and ways for them to easily fall asleep - even if you sit in first class.
  • Pack lots of their favorite snacks that aren't particularly messy and won't make them hyperactive.
  • Pack lots of things to keep them occupied, like coloring books, activity books, a learning program for attention issues, and whatever else they are interested in. You can make this a surprise package or have your child help you pick out what they want to bring - whichever works better for your child.
  • Invest in a plane pillow that goes around the back of their neck so they can rest their head for a nap
  • Pick your seat carefully. If the plane is not full, try to get a row with empty seats so your child can lie down with her head on your lap for a snooze.
  • Get up and move around. Stretching, taking a trip to the bathroom, and just walking up and down the aisles a few times will help distract the child. If she doesn't like the attention she may receive from other passengers, do this when the cabin lights are out and most people are asleep.

Only you know your child best. For this reason, the tips above are a guideline. The point is to keep your child as happy, well-rested, and content as possible when traveling by plane to avoid any negative behaviors. If your child does experience an outburst, don't worry about what the other passengers think.

Instead, focus on the needs of your child and what you can use in your emergency bag of snacks and activities and what you can do to help calm her down. Traveling with another adult for extra help is always a good idea, but if you're traveling by yourself, just remember that you can do this, and the more you expose your child to air travel, the easier it will get.

To learn more about how our personalized, drug-free approach may help your child, contact us online or find a center near you. You can also view the research and results of the program on the website.

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