The car drill technique

Far from being a haven, the car can become a family battleground on wheels. But you can stay in control and keep your eyes on the road with our car drill technique

Bored children sitting close together in a small space is a recipe for disaster on car trips. Not only do they end up bickering, but their whining can be a potentially dangerous distraction for the driver. Giving the kids something to do and having clear rules about how they behave in the car are key to a stress-free – and safe – journey.

Step 1: Decide where they sit

If you have several children, think about how best to seat them. Kids close in age will be able to easily swap in-car activities between themselves if you seat them next to each other. Alternately, an older child sitting next to a younger sibling can help to keep their little brother or sister amused and retrieve any dropped toys or books. If two of your children tend to clash more, seat them well away from each other if you have the space.

Keep safety in mind at all times - use car seats, and make sure you switch off air bags if your child has to travel in the front seat (although it's better to put children in the back if possible).

Step 2: Keep them occupied

Idle hands and minds make mischief, so five minutes before you intend to set off, make sure each child chooses a toy, game or book to keep them occupied in the car.

Step 3: Buckle up

Before you leave, remind your kids to buckle up.

Step 4: Lay down the rules

Make sure your children know what you expect from them in the way of behaviour. You can make it as simple as firmly stating that ‘house rules apply’ or have a separate list of four or five in-car behaviour rules. The point is that you should be in control at all times.

Step 5: Stop if there’s a problem

Constantly monitoring your kids in the rear-view mirror or turning around to try and exert your authority means your focus isn’t where it should be – on your driving. If any of your children act up in the car, pull over to the side of the road to sort it out and switch the seating arrangement to keep the peace if necessary.

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