A while ago, I enjoyed a marvellous vacation in Rome. The journey back home by plane went without any problems, which is unfortunately not always the case. Travelling in the same plane was a family with very young children. One of the children cried most of the time during the journey. Though it really did not bother me at all, the child’s own parents got more and more irritated by the minute.
While in the beginning of the journey I was hearing things like: “Sssht, quiet now, come and sit with me for a while”, after some time I heard things such as: “Are you still trying to get attention?” and soon after that: “Now stop that unbelievable tantrum of yours!”. Hearing things like this always surprises me. Since this child was hardly able to speak herself, I wondered if this child was even able to understand the meaning of the word ‘tantrum’.
But the thing that surprised me most was the fact that it seemed as if these parents did not recognise the child’s need to play. The child was just feeling bored, being strapped in a seat for several hours! Was there a way the parents could have prevented this from happening? Turning the journey into a pleasant one, not only for their child, but also for themselves?
I think there is. When my daughter was that age, I used to buy small, cheap little gifts and wrap these up with gift paper. I also added boxes of raisins and cartons with lemonade. Each quarter of an hour, she was allowed to unwrap a present. Just the unwrapping kept her busy for at least 5 minutes and then there was time left to play with the gift, until it was time for her to unwrap the next present. She thoroughly enjoyed this activity, keeping her busy for most of the journey, without ever feeling bored. At home, the small cheap presents disappeared in the waste bin. Not even once did she cry on board an aircraft. Many times the other passengers were very surprised seeing her leave the aircraft, they had not heard her before. No one had even noticed her, let alone being bothered by her presence. We ourselves, as her parents, were also able to enjoy the flight, without any hassle.
This is an example of ‘enriching your surroundings’ and can be very effective in preventing future conflicts. You can use it in diverse situations, varying from visiting ‘boring’ people, such as doctors, to long journeys. When you see an opportunity to enrich your surroundings in order to prevent conflicts, it may result in your feeling relaxed yourself.
Feeling relaxed… don’t you think this is a wonderful prospect for the next summer?