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How should I react when a child gets nervous when travelling by car?

How should you react if your child is nervous in the car?


As we have said many times before, it is better not to allow them to become bored, uncomfortable or nervous. Here are some simple tips:

  • Make sure they are comfortable in their seats with their harness or seatbelt properly fitted. If they are uncomfortable, cramped or too hot, they will soon let you know. When choosing a seat, think about this and choose one that is not only safe but also appears to be comfortable. Tip: sit your child in it to try it out in the shop before buying it: if there are various models of varying colors and materials. Allow your child to participate in the final choice. Make sure they are not too wrapped up; being too hot can cause dizziness and sickness. For babies and very small children still using a seat with an integrated harness it should neither be too tight (it will bother them immediately) nor too loose (there is a risk of them trying to free themselves or could be thrown out of the seat in an accident). Those wearing a seatbelt should be checked periodically to ensure that it is correctly positioned, with the shoulder strap between the breastbone and the collarbone and the lower strap across the hipbones. A correctly worn seatbelt doesn’t just prevent injury it is also more comfortable.
  • Make frequent stops. On medium to long journeys we recommend a stop every two hours. The best idea is to plan the journey beforehand and locate service areas or places where the children can stretch their legs and run around a bit. Take advantage of these stops to change a diaper, use the bathroom or feed them.
  • Keep them entertained. There are children that are able to entertain themselves and others that need much more attention, both of which will expect you play your part once they get bored. Try singing (they love to sing in the car) or a game like I spy: or tell them a story, always a good remedy: or put on a DVD and let them enjoy their favourite cartoon or film. Just like everything else you are carrying in the car, make sure that is firmly fixed and cannot be thrown around the car when braking hard or in a collision (the best DVD players are those integrated in the front headrests, if you use any other system be sure that it is guaranteed by the manufacturer and sold by the carmaker).
  • Keep to hand a small bag with handkerchiefs, water, some snacks and anything else you think you might need. This will avoid them from being thirsty or hungry. This bag should also be fixed, perhaps using the free seatbelt or at least place it where it cannot be a danger to the children when braking hard or in a collision (for example under the front seat or on the floor), keep the other children’s things in a bag in the trunk: when you stop you can easily access the bag.

FUNDACIÓN MAPFRE advises you to remain calm. Whatever happens you must never lose your nerve.

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