Scared to fly? Maybe your child has never travelled before. Maybe they are naturally anxious in most things. Fear of flying is not uncommon for any age. Adults – most of them, at least – can simply psyche themselves into preparing for the flight, or they can try exposure, repeatedly flying until they conquer their fears. Children are a bit different that way. You may need to give a child who is scared to fly more help.
Helping a Child How is Scared to Fly
There are some things that we as parents and guardians can do to help out kiddos who are afraid of flying. The biggest thing we can do above all else is get them into the sky. They need to overcome their fear so they’re able to easily navigate the planet, whether it be for work or play. Aside from that one biggie, let’s take a look at five ways we can help a tiny nervous flyer.
Talk to the Pilot
Sometimes it can help a nervous child to feel like he or she knows the captain of the plane. Ask if your child can speak with the pilot and maybe see the cockpit. A short conversation and a quick peek at the cabin may be all your child needs to allay their fears about the upcoming flight. Even in this post 9-11 age of travel I have seen many airlines and pilots go above and beyond to make children feel safe and welcome aboard.
Bring Security with You
If your child has a favorite object such as their favorite teddy bear, toy, or a small blanket, bring it along for them to fly with. Often times these favorite objects can add a sense of security and well-being to your child’s psyche, allowing him or her to more easily deal with the stress of their fear. That’s completely okay. Trust me, if your child is at all nervous about flying, then you don’t want to argue over what they can and cannot take. Transition object from home are often helpful.
You’d be amazed at how quickly a child who is scared to fly can get lost in their favorite games on a smart phone or tablet. A favorite game or movie can be just the distraction a child needs to help them overcome their fear. Other distractions to consider: a favourite action figure, blank paper and crayons, and colouring books. I like to bring printables on all my trips, whether by car, train or plane. I stack the deck in favour of success.
Keep Them on the Aisle
If your child is scared to fly, the last thing you want to do is give them a front row sit to the world falling away below them. It’s always a good idea to keep them to the aisle if at all possible. That way, they don’t have a crystal clear picture of just how high up you really are. If they respond well and quickly and wish to see outside then by all means take in the breathtaking view.
Lead by Example
One of the best ways to soothe a child who is scared to fly is to show them just how calm mommy and daddy are about flying. Always project a sense of calm and confidence. Assure your child that everything will be fine in that smooth, calming voice that we parents know all too well. When mommy and daddy are calm, the kids will be better.
Being Scared to Fly is Natural
You can help your kids with their fear by following the tips above. One last thing to remember is this. Make sure you have a very specific talk about flying, how it works, and how safe it is. Answer any questions the kids may have, and remember to project that sense of calmness. Kids are resilient. If you talk with them about it and employ the tips above, you should have a much easier time soothing a child who’s scared to fly.