I lamented earlier in the week about a short flight where a child behind me wouldn’t stop kicking my seat, he and his sibling were shrieking most of the flight, and the parents were arguably even less well-behaved.
There’s no question that the comments were polarized over how to handle this. Lots of suggestions, some more practical than others, but ultimately it was a tough spot because it’s awkward to confront other peoples’ children, the parents were already fighting with each other, and you don’t want to make combustible situations even worse (I could imagine a flight attendant confrontation that led to a diversion — which would have left me far worse off, farther from hom).
What I found most interesting — and ultimately most constructive — were the suggestions for parents, by parents. The parents in this situation were simply not well-equipped or prepared to handle their kids. And I’m not well-equipped to offer advice to parents, not having children myself.
So I really valued Wendy Perrin’s piece for Conde’ Nast, keying off of my post, on things that parents can do in such situations. She made several suggestions, and even went to her kids for their thoughts (!). So read the whole thing.
Some of my favorites:
If your child is kicking the seat, remove his shoes…
When reserving seats on a flight, book one parent into the seat in front of the child who’s the kicker…
Place your child’s beloved stuffed animal, Pillow Pet, or similar plush comfort toy—every child travels with one—in the seat pocket in front of him. He won’t want to kick his favorite animal friend. If he does anyway, tell him that if he kicks it again, you’ll take it away.
…Physically restrain the child’s legs.
This isn’t easy, clearly, but as Wendy suggests there are things that a parent can at least try to do. And I think my greatest frustration — beyond even the kicking and the shrieking — was that there were no efforts being made to try to make it better. I had literally no hope.