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How do I get my children to behave in the car?

(21 Posts)
cazzzz Tue 02-Jun-09 07:50:49


I have 8yo and 5yo boys. Their behaviour at the moment is often exasperating, but I am getting particularly stressed about it in the car.

They argue, hit each other, fiddle with the radio and windows. I'm getting so stressed that I'm worried I'm a danger on the road.

Shouting "silence" at them does eventually work, but there has to be a better way...


ClaudiaSchiffer Tue 02-Jun-09 07:55:23

We've just returned from a long driving trip and my dh insisted on buying a 2 screen dvd set for the car. My middle class hackles were raised and I was against it BUT it turns out it was an utterly brilliant idea and it kept the kids absorbed for hours of tedious driving. I wouldn't suggest it for short trips but for long ones it was great.

piscesmoon Tue 02-Jun-09 07:56:44

I used to stop the car and refused to budge until they kept still and stopped fighting. Take a book or paper with you so that they can see you have something to do. They get bored and will want you to drive on. It is especially effective if you are going somewhere they want to go. Just try the calm, broken record, approach of 'I will carry on when you are sitting still'.
It doesn't take long before you only have tot threaten to stop the car-as long as they know you mean it.

ClaudiaSchiffer Tue 02-Jun-09 07:58:47

Back in the '70's when I was growing up, my folks resorted to drawing a chalk line on the vynal seats to keep my brothers and I apart in the back seat. You could try that.

piscesmoon Tue 02-Jun-09 07:59:30

On long trips we had games, things to look for and prizes, 20 questions , I went to market and bought.... etc.
I expect dvd's are a godsend-they weren't around when mine were that stage. We had story tapes which were good.

piscesmoon Tue 02-Jun-09 08:00:34

I used to have to sit in between my 2 brothers Claudia-very unfair on me!!

plimple Tue 02-Jun-09 08:00:44

Give them something else to do, whatever they are into, let them choose the music. Then if they are distracting you do as pisces moon says. Explain you cannot drive with distractions as you'll crash and then all die so you have to pull in. Talk to them and get to the root of the problem though.

HuffwardlyRudge Tue 02-Jun-09 08:03:02

We play word games or listen to story cds.

Tommy Tue 02-Jun-09 08:05:36

CDs with stories on have worked for us - and also some classsical music CDs which DH picked up cheap somewhere.

I have also done the pulling over and stipping until they have calmed down and refused to drive until they behave. Agree with piscesmoon - give them the impression that you are not bothered if you don't get to where you are going grin

cazzzz Tue 02-Jun-09 08:10:22

Thanks for all the speedy replies everyone.

This is mainly a problem with the school run and short trips - not long journeys.

Stopping the car is a good one though. I think if we're late and they have to sign a late slip at school, that might get to them.... we'll see.

messymissy Tue 02-Jun-09 08:15:26

Stopping the car is a good idea - just set out earlier - allow ten minutes or so until it settles down.

EvenBetaDad Tue 02-Jun-09 08:26:53

*cazzz - we do not have a car but have the same problem with our DS1 and DS2 on long or short train journeys. We got two DS Lites which has the same effect (funny they are called DS Lites). A lot more portable and quicker than DVD players.

Can also be used as a punisment. Any persistent bad behaviour at home or travelling and the DS gets confiscated. Works a treat.

Warning: Negative parenting alert. blush

cazzzz Tue 02-Jun-09 10:21:25

Hi EvenBetaDad

Thanks for your post. I can see the way you're going with this, and to be honest it's really tempting.

But I'm actually worried that my kids just generally can't behave at the moment (they can fight and mess around in other situations like shops and at home).

I do use "screen time" to anaesthetise them when I just can't hack the background noise anymore, and/ or when I think they need a mental break too (e.g. TV or computer for an hour after school, as I get ready in the morning, or Sunday afternoon when we're all knackered).

However, I kind of feel they do need to actually behave at times, and I just can't go on "plugging them in". Maybe I'm being totally naive, like you can't expect a baby to stop crying and you just have to "get through it"....

Any more thoughts...?????

Seeline Tue 02-Jun-09 10:32:58

I would aim to reduce temptation as much as possible. My two are a year younger than yours. They are not allowed in teh front of the car which reduces the number of buttons, switches etc. I still have child locks on the doors, and have immobilised their window switches with my central control button. Their car seats are located right next to the doors, which leaves a gap between them. On longer jouneys, I try to make sure the middle seat is occupied by either an adult, or luggage to reduce the risk of breaches!!

ChopsTheDuck Tue 02-Jun-09 10:40:36

I do as piescesmoon did, it really does work. It was the only way I finally got my dts to keep their belts on and correctly placed and the threat of stopping the car still works now. For some reason they jsut hate it! I also used to keep a book in the car.

cazzzz Tue 02-Jun-09 10:50:30


I'm going to go for it - the stop the car method.

Probably can't put it into operation until the weekend due to my work commitments... but then I have nearly a whole month in charge because my husband is away on business (yelp)... so that should be lots of time to practice.

Scrumplet Tue 02-Jun-09 11:59:31

cazzzz, I have used the stop-the-car approach. Works a treat. DS is brilliant in the car. I have only one though, so no fighting occurs, which helps! He is allowed to choose the music - we take turns. We have story CDs, music CDs, some absorbing books like Where's Wally - not actual reading books, IYSWIM. DS sits in the front. If he fiddles with the knobs - and his signature trick, putting the car in gear before I've switched it on - he goes in the back for a while. Generally, he's no trouble.

With your two, explain that sensible behaviour in the car is non-negotiable for safety reasons. Use your child locks. Rotate them between front and back to keep some distance between them. Let the one in the front choose the music, if all's going well. Any nonsense, stop the car. If it makes them late, that's a natural consequence which they could have avoided. Valuable lesson. Maybe explain to their teacher your plan, so she/he knows you might be late a few times but can hopefully support you with this.

And try to have them run around as much as possible, burning up excess energy, when they're not immobilised in the car.

Cazzzz I too am a fan of stop the car, going so far as to open one of the doors and insist one gets out and walks, they soon shut up. The motorway one is the best, I just yell at them, 'you are going to make me crash!'. They instantly behave wink

EvenBetaDad Tue 02-Jun-09 17:49:06

cazzzz - one thing we did suddenly realise when DS1 hit age 6 and DS2 was 4 that they needed massive amounts of hard physical excercise. Once we had got the energy out of them with 2 hours in a soft play area or the climbing frames in the park or a hard game of football - then we had some chance of quiet thoughtful play / learning with no fighting or niggling.

Schools too often forget this.

cat64 Tue 02-Jun-09 18:02:30

Message withdrawn

NaccetyMac Tue 02-Jun-09 20:28:40

My Mum did the stop-the-car-and-chuck-the-evil-boys-out more than once. Failing that, she had a fly swat which she used to slap us on the legs without looking behind. Totally indiscriminately, too. grin
With my children, I have adopted the Leapster console/ ipod shuffle/ toys up to the ceiling plus seating DD in a different row of seats to DS1. Working so far!

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