While we would all love to think that everything is perfect at Disney World, unfortunately that’s just not the case. Sometimes things go wrong, and you need to complain. Sometimes the weather is bad. And sometimes kids don’t behave as they should.
Most adults don’t look forward to administering discipline, especially on vacation. But those same adults love their kids and still act like responsible parents, so they do institute discipline – even on vacation.
Many of the rules and procedures for dealing with your kids on vacation should be the same as at home. However, you might want to adjust you approach just a bit given your unique environment.
Here are six tips for dealing with your kids on vacation:
1 – Provide Rewards
Rather than focus exclusively on discipline and bad behavior, many parents find great success when they focus on reinforcing good behavior. If you catch your children doing something well, praise and reward them. Did they do a good job of waiting patiently to see Minnie Mouse in the hot sun? Tell them you are proud of them, and perhaps buy them an inexpensive souvenir.
2 – Explain Expectations In Advance
Your normal daily routines will go out the window when you are at Disney World. You might get up and go to bed at different times, and visiting attractions and shows will be out-of-the-ordinary – in a good way. Take a few minutes before your vacation to explain what will be happening. What kind of behavior do you expect from your kids while waiting, while dining, and while on an attraction? What responsibilities will your children have, such as keeping track or their own toys or staying close to their siblings? Be sure to review these expectations each day throughout the vacation, too. If you let your kids clearly know what you expect, you have a better chance of getting it.
3 – Warn Early
Sometimes you can see that your kids are starting to slip away from their good behavior. They may be hot, tired, or generally cranky. At the first sign of things starting to go wrong, take action. Tell your kids what you are seeing and tell them what you expect.
4 – Redirect For Minor Problems
Especially for little kids, sometimes just redirecting their attention can be enough to prevent a small problem from becoming a big problem. If they are getting cranky, point out something interesting. If you think they are getting hungry, stop for a quick little snack.
5 – Give A Time Out
At heart every kid wants to be part of the family and be a part of the fun that everyone else is having. When they misbehave, removing them (temporarily and safely) from the family activity and the fun that everyone else is having makes a big statement. If your kid screams because they can’t buy a new plush Mickey Mouse, explain that if they don’t stop, you will take them out of the store to sit outside for 10 minutes. That doesn’t sound like fun to a kid, and it will often clear up their behavior.
6 – Give A Punishment
While a time out is a punishment, sometimes you need to take it up a step. Repeated disobedience, bad behavior, or unsafe activity means you need to act. The punishment might mean losing the right to buy a souvenir, losing the right to see a favorite attraction, or leaving the park. No family wants to lose precious vacation time by leaving Disney World, but sometimes it is a necessary ‘nuclear option’ when your kids are seriously misbehaving. You could lose some time on your vacation, but you are also likely to get the behavior you expect for the rest of your trip.
What Works For You?
Every kid is different and every family is different. Some things that work for some folks won’t work for others. What works for you?
How do you deal with disciplining kids at Disney World?