I just read an opinion on distracted driving laws. Somehow the comments ended up being a conversation about children's behaviour in the car. That got me thinking, yes, children act up in vehicles, and yes, it's harder when there's more then one, but there ARE ways to make it a little better.
I've driven a car with just my daughter, or with her and a friend, and also with 3 other children. Each time I have found a way to keep them calm enough I can drive. Yes, they talk, sing, make noise, and sometimes start to argue, but I've never had the problems that some parents talk about. I have been very very lucky!
While I admit that part of it is luck, there are things that I've done to make it a little better. One of the common phrases is "I'm driving, can it wait" which can be followed by "do you need me to pull over" Most children won't want to pull over and sit on the side of the road. It's not fun, and it can be scary, so usually the answer is no and then the car calms down. It's better to be quiet then to sit there not doing anything until we can keep going. So far I've had to do it about 2-3 times, usually once for every child.
My daughter is now very good at having a conversation with me while remaining calm while in the car. She sometimes still wants me to look in the mirror and see something she made or drew, but when I say I can't look right now, and ask her to either wait for a safe time for mommy to look or to just do something else and I think it's great anyway, she does. Children want to be safe, and this will be controversial, but I explain to her when things aren't safe. I feel that she may as well learn now that she can take an active role in keeping safe and that her actions can affect others as well. Trust me, if they can pick up on road rage or that bad word you said when you stubbed your tow, they can learn proper behaviour in a car as well.
My tricks include books, a magnadoodle type board, placing a snack where she can reach it, ensuring a drink is available that I don't have to hand back, and reminding her that it is safest to have a drink when the car is stopped, and to be very very careful eating in a moving vehicle. Often snacking and drinking is done at red lights or parking lots, or she's careful to make sure I"m on flat road with not a lot of "bumpies" or corners. She will even ask first sometimes. This again reminds me how lucky I am, not all preschoolers or kindergarteners are so mature or agreeable, and I get that, but I still feel that parents can teach their children so much more if they just decide to do it.
I once drove around a little boy who somehow learned to undo his carseat and walk around the vehicle. Solution? We sat on the side of the highway until he got back in. We sat there for a while, I hated it, but after a few minutes he got bored, there's not much fun to do in a vehicle, and you can't get out on the road, and it never happened again. Well, not while I was driving anyway.
I was driving once when a fight broke out in my backseat. Well, meanie that I am, I pulled right over and sat there. Inside voices only, or get out and argue (we were out of town so it was "argue in the ditch" I believe) It didn't last long. Luckily they didn't want to get out so they stopped pretty quickly. Would I have made them get out? Yes. On a busy highway I woudn't, I would find a parkin glot and let them have it out on the boulevard or grass there. The thing is, they are bored in the car so they act up. This can be solved two ways, keep them busy or help them realize that it'll take longer to get there and therefore be more boring if they act up and you have to pull over.
While you are welcome to comment, please be polite and don't attack me or other commenters. Every child is different, not everything works for every child,