Resolving Conflict Between Kiddos Traveling 40 MPH

Invariably on any venture with kids, as with a lot of parents and ventures, wrinkles in the daily "plan" accumulate, especially if traffic begins to backup.

When that happens, one needs a little grace, St. Christopher and prayer to effectively and safely navigate down the highway, headed straight  for school, a play date, yogurt outing, shopping venture or bug hunt at the local park.  One too many red lights, and tensions rise.

You know what I mean.  You're sitting at the light, looking at your watch and then hear from the back seat little ones launch into "How much longer?"  "Are we there yet?" or "Papa, why is she staring at me?" Or, that one we all love, "I have to go pee again" (Wouldn't it make life a little easier if car seat companies had a fitted and pee resistant covers, just like we use for their beds?  But, I digress).  If you have had enough rest the night before (Yea, right), and plenty of coffee or diet-whatever, then these queries are effectively managed with a polite any one of the following canned comments:

  • "Nope.  I'll let you know when we're there."
  • "Nope, it will be just a little longer."
  • "Hon, look out the window and let's see who can find the next sign with numbers."
  • "Hang, in there, let me find a bookstore. Can you hang on?"  (Bookstores are harder to find, but they are the cleanest; and since my daughters loath gas stations, I know just about how long it takes to get to each bookstore from any particular intersection in our community).

If this is all you have to deal with before arriving at your destination, then you have literally "arrived" and a Snoopy dance or the latest dance step is in order.  Life is sweet and yes, there is a God who listens to St. Christopher.  Pause.  Wait a minute, life isn't so sweet all the time, is it?  Sometimes, St. Christopher and God have other designs and lessons to teach when kiddos get into it in the backseat.

Are you ready?  If your little ones begin lobbing stuffed animals at each other, or Lord forbid, take the last sticker from someone's new sticker / coloring book, and all heck is just about to be unleashed back there, under these circumstances, you've got little time to react.  Rather than trying to manage WWIII from the front seat of a war zone traveling at 40 MPH approaching a yellow light, take a deep breath and say, "Hey, guys.  I thought you were wanting to go to (Fill in the blank here).  Guess you are not ready, since you can't be nice to each other. Sooooo, we're pulling over and we are not going anywhere until you stop fighting and makeup."

Of course, for maximum effect, you'll want to (a) have practiced this with your colleagues and CEO and (b) keep your voice low, determined and just a little difficult to hear, James Bond style.  Start yelling, and you lose the full effect and beauty of this peace keeping mission (Don't forget to turn off the engine so you can then bask in peace a quiet).  I usually stay at the side of the road for about the number of minutes equal to the average of their ages.  And, just for grins, to ground myself, I adjust the rear view mirror and watch their little confused faces looking at each other, and without out a word, try to figure out, "What are we going to do?"  What was initially a potential conflict that could rival any, turns into three to four minutes of entertainment.

Now, I'm not kidding, the fist time I tried this little maneuver, the kids were in shock. Truth be told, I was, too.  The war stopped!  That's when I discovered, keep a child from her intended destination, and you will have her full attention and compliance.  After about two more trials of this, the mere threat of pulling over has resulted in nearly 99.99999% effectiveness.

My little ones are four and six years old.  So, I encourage you, try this in your home (I mean car), but keep in mind, this strategy to end conflict between older children, to my knowledge, has not been tried.  So be cautious!  In a few more years I will let you know how it goes.  But until then, let me know how your peace keeping mission turns out.