“She Rolls Her Eyes At Me”: Man Asks If He’s Wrong For Yelling At Mother Who Can’t “Discipline” Her Children On A Plane

Hopping on an airplane always requires a little preparation. But for parents traveling with a couple of restless souls on board, it’s a whole different story. Unpredictable schedules, fears, boredom, and cranky moods are just a few challenges moms and dads face when flying. Not to mention the stares of disapproval from fellow passengers that follow them as they make their way down the crowded aisle.

Controlling the little ones in a confined space is not for the faint of heart, and you can’t blame the parents who try their best. But let’s face it: no one likes to sit near a screaming child or have their seat kicked perpetually for hours on end. Something that this traveler knows from personal experience.

As the now-deleted user detailed in a recent story on the AITA subreddit, a family of four was seated behind him as they returned to New York. “The plane takes off and the boys start yelling about how this is [the] best day ever, and generally making a lot of noise,” the man recounted. At first, he was able to tune them out — until their son just couldn’t seem to stop messing with his seat, and he finally snapped. Scroll down below to read how the incident unfolded, be sure to weigh in on the discussion in the comments, and keep reading for our interview with psychologist Lawrence Cohen, Ph.D., for some tips on how to make traveling with kids a breeze.

After a child kept messing with his seat on an hours-long flight, this passenger finally “lost it”

Image source: Gerrie van der Walt (not the actual photo)

Now the man is wondering whether he went too far, so he turned to the internet for advice

Image source: Hanson Lu (not the actual photo)

After reading the story, the majority of readers firmly sided with the user. And it’s hardly surprising why, as kicking the back of someone else’s seat is the most annoying thing a fellow passenger can do. A recent survey by The Vacationer polled over 1,000 American adult travelers and found that 59% of respondents said seat kickers are the most irritating people on board. Additionally, inattentive parents took fourth place, as nearly half reported they find poor parenting on flights unpleasant.

Flying is just as big of a challenge for kids as it is for their parents and the people around them, and policing the little ones is sometimes a daunting task to accomplish. But as Lawrence Cohen, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of Playful Parenting and The Opposite of Worry explained, there are many ways moms and dads can ensure airplane travel with children would be smooth sailing.

One reliable method is to familiarize kids with the experience through play. “Help prepare children for what to expect by playing airplane — a lot. Make sure the play is fun, not a drill!” Cohen told Bored Panda. “But introduce characters such as a person in the seat in front who is a bit cranky. Exaggerations get the laughs, and laughs bring in the learning.”

According to Cohen, some of the most common trouble spots for children when flying are popping ears, tense passengers, restricted motion, noise restrictions, loudness of the plane, and the excitement of the travel and the trip. “Why is excitement a trouble spot?” he asked. “Because any intense emotion can be overwhelming for the young nervous system. Anticipate which of these might be especially difficult for your child, and play it out, and talk about it in advance.”

The fear of children running amok on board can unfortunately even discourage parents from air traveling at all. But psychologist Cohen pointed out that flying doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. “I would hate to see families miss out on the fun, family, and educational value of travel just because of a possible mismatch between kid-energy and adult passenger-energy. The things children do that bother adults are mostly normal — but they are aggravating.”

Cohen admitted that the one behavior that really gets him is a child kicking his seat. But if your little one is notorious for this kind of shenanigan, he noted it would be a great storyline to introduce into your airplane games.

Later on, he added an update to clarify some questions people asked in the comments

Image source: anon

While the internet is chock full of advice for how parents should calm down a restless child, co-passengers may be left wondering how to respond to these situations. Should they speak up? Address the child? Get flight attendants involved, especially if parents make no attempt to discipline their kids?

In these situations, it’s important to consider that moms and dads know their children much better than random travelers. “Attempts to restrain or interfere may well make things much worse, while benign neglect may make things better faster,” Cohen explained. “It could also be that the parent feels helpless and embarrassed, and that leads to a freeze response. The best way out of a freeze response, naturally enough, is warmth! So if fellow passengers are understanding and empathic, then parents will rally faster and feel less helpless.”

Cohen advised that it may be beneficial to speak directly to the child, not the parent, but only if you can do it in a warm or neutral tone of voice. “Harshness, anger, crankiness, sarcasm — we are all very used to these forms of communication, especially nowadays. But young children are easily overwhelmed by this level of emotion coming at them from a large person.”

Jarring words directed towards the child can make them shut up, “which may seem like a success, but it isn’t. More often, it leads to an increase in troubling behavior, because children are only obnoxious when they are emotionally overloaded or are not getting their needs met.”

To handle your inner frustrations, Cohen offered his favorite plane trick — “pat the baby” — he uses everywhere he goes. “I stole the idea from the neuroscientist Louis Cozolino. Pretend you have a fussy little baby on your shoulder, and you are giving them gentle pats on the back, like burping a baby.”

“Let your breathing slow,” he continued. “Let love and that warm feeling of attachment flow out of you. I do it when a baby on the plane is crying, or when my own grandchild is upset. It seems to spread calmness — at least through myself! — but also throughout my section of the plane.”

Most importantly, don’t forget to have empathy for the stressed-out parent. “A dirty look — or a scolding screaming fit — has never helped a parent do better. Never ever. A warm smile, an ‘I’ve been there’ expression, or a ‘You’ve got your hands full’ bit of compassion is the way to go,” Cohen concluded.

The vast majority of readers were firmly on the side of the passenger, here’s what they had to say

The post "She Rolls Her Eyes At Me": Man Asks If He’s Wrong For Yelling At Mother Who Can’t "Discipline" Her Children On A Plane first appeared on Bored Panda.

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