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Preparing a Child for Their First Flight

by Barbara Rogers

Apr 25, 2023

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It’s only natural for parents to be a little apprehensive about their first flight with young children. Most kids do just fine in the air, as long as they have an idea of what to expect — and what’s expected of them. And for some kids, flying may be their favorite part of family travel.


Let Children Know What to Expect

You know your child’s capacity for change: For some kids, it helps to emphasize the adventure factor; for kids less comfortable with change, compare it to things they already know, such as wearing seatbelts in a car or riding in a school bus.


Play Up the Anticipation

Pack a little bag of surprises to open after the plane takes off and let them look forward to discovering what’s in it. It’s good to let them have one small surprise early if you have a long wait at the gate before boarding.


Discuss Flying in Advance, Emphasizing the Positive

Instead of saying “there’s nothing to be afraid of,” talk about it as though you were looking forward to the fun of flying (even if you’re not). Does your child like the airborne rides at amusement parks? If so, use that as an example of what flying feels like.


For Kids Who Tend to be Fearful, Don’t Make a Big Thing of Flying

Instead, talk about where you’re going and what you’ll do there. Treat the airplane experience as just another part of the trip. Kids are quick to pick up on your own nervousness, so play down your own nerves. Do prepare kids for having to stay buckled in their seats and being aware of surrounding passengers by using their “indoor voice” and not kicking the seat in front. That said, be as positive as you can, instead of giving them a catalog of “don’ts” to remember.


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