3 Ways to Shut Your Brat Up While Traveling


Being a parent can be life’s most richly rewarding experience. On the other hand, flying with a small child — or a large, immature one — can be anything but rewarding — maybe not quite as bad as taking an irrepressible little blabbermouth to a movie in which much of the dialogue is delivered in something just slightly louder than a whisper, but awful nonetheless. Those all around you will make no bones about wishing you’d been sterile. Some may even corner you outside the lavatory and growl something on the order of, “I can barely hear the roar of the plane’s engines over your brat, chief. How about you shut him the hell up, or do me and my colleagues gotta dislocate a couple of your shoulders?” (Behold the inadvisability of choosing a flight transporting a group of keynote speakers to the big annual Racketeer-Influenced Criminal Organizations conference and show in Atlantic City!)

1. Drugs

In these hyper-permissive times, many parents fail to perceive that there are several alternatives to allowing their progeny to disturb those all around them. Perhaps the most self-evident is pharmaceutical. Slip a Valium or comparable benzodiazepine into his chocolate milk, and even the most truculent little whiner is apt to spend the balance of the flight — and, in some cases, the next couple of days, depending on actual dosage — dozing serenely, disturbing not a soul. (Disclaimer: consult with a doctor prior to drugging your child.)

2. Herbs

I am well aware that many parents who loath to resort to the use of pharmaceuticals greatly prefer herbs. But in this age of the Happy Meal, slipping ashwaganda or schisandra, for instance, into a child’s food or beverage can be a very difficult proposition. (Disclaimer: consult with a doctor prior to drugging your child.)

3. Psychology

Many frequent-flier parents favor psychology to ensure the good behavior of pint-sized traveling companions. The positive reinforcement crowd will first try something along the lines of, “Don’t you want me to be able to tell Gramps and Grandmother what a perfect little gentleman [or lady] you were during our flight?” If this doesn’t work, you may well feel compelled to make promises you’re not in a position to keep, such as, “I have a feeling that if you stop pouring your chocolate milk over the head of the passenger seated directly in front of you, the captain is going to invite you into the cockpit later to help him or her land the plane.”  The obvious problem with this is that your child will come to feel he can’t trust the person in the world he or she most needs to be able to trust — you, Daddy! — and will grow up unable to enjoy healthy relationships with others, but let’s not put the cart before the horse, OK, chief?

Do bear in mind that sometimes one can get away with a much more credible promise, or even no promise at all, by, for instance, speculating that the flight crew might reward the well-behaved juvenile passenger with a little badge, or by allowing him or her to help collect trash half an hour after beverage service. Should neither the badge nor the refuse-collection privilege be forthcoming, the parent can point out that he never promised anything, and used the word might. This has the added benefit of predisposing the momentarily crestfallen child to a career in the law, or even politics.

Of course, many modern children, their sensibilities warped by Nickelodeon and violent video games, will snicker, “Yeah, right,” Bruce Willis-ishly at even the most artfully disguised attempt at positive reinforcement. With such little monsters, it may be necessary to say something like, “Trip the stewardess just once more, buster, and I’m going to take away your earphones,” or even, “Loudly proclaim, ‘This movie sucks big ones!’ again, young lady, and I’m going to let the flight attendants put you with the big ugly suitcases in the hold, where you will be frozen solid within seconds.” (Disclaimer: consult with a psychologist prior to giving your child a permanent complex.)


Comments (Showing 2 of 2)

  • derekchad at 4:26pm September 01, 2013

    Or consider leaving your child at home with Gramma/pa, or just not flying with your child at all. I continue to be amazed at how many people bring children four years old and younger with them on planes. Why? There really is no good reason.

    The five and up kids are usually well-behaved and are old enough to appreciate and remember the experience at the other end. But, for younger kids, flying is scary and uncomfortable, and they derive no benefit whatsoever. Bringing infants/toddlers on a plane is just selfish.

  • Red259 at 9:05pm September 13, 2013

    My parents took me on a plane when I was an infant to see my grandparents and family and I promptly vomited all over my mother after takeoff. 38 years later and she still has not forgiven me. Its definitely no fun for the infants, but I am sure there are some situations when parents just do not have a choice in the matter.

Leave Reply

You must be a logged in member to post a comment. Click here to Register.