Creative Child

Three Parenting Mistakes Sure to Ruin Your Next Family Vacation

by Deborah Song

My husband and I go to great lengths every year to plan a vacation for our family. We always pick a kid-friendly location, somewhere usually on the beach. We start budgeting a year in advanced, begin creating the itinerary several months ahead and pack as early as a month before the trip. It’s the event we look forward to most out of the year.

But perhaps even more unpredictable than the weather, the fate of our trips seemed to hinge on the behavior of my children. Would they throw one of their inconsolable tantrums and ruin it for everyone? We wanted so much to show them a good time and make those indelible impressions of laughing, giggling happy children on our memories and on photos, that we were willing to do almost anything. We were at their mercy, really.

But that’s parenting mistake number one, according to child psychologist Dr. Randy Cale. Here are three parenting mistakes you don’t want to make.

Number 1: You try too hard to make them happy.

The last thing you want is a meltdown right before getting on their favorite ride at Disney World. But it’s not your job to guarantee their happiness. You can’t. Not on your next vacation or in life. Instead, it’s your job to create opportunities for happiness, and let them learn to be patient, handle disagreements with siblings and maintain decorum even when they’re out of their comfort zone.

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So don’t make exceptions for bad behavior just because you’re on vacation or out in public. In their state of unhappiness, don’t rescue them. They need to learn to rescue themselves. It’s important, then, to shift your thinking about trips and outings from must-have happy experiences to learning opportunities for good behavior. Having the right expectations will also better equip you deal with difficult situations.

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