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We’re all told that becoming distracted whilst driving is one of the main causes of car accidents. But it can be difficult not to be distracted when you have two crying kids in the back of the car and the traffic dictates that you can’t stop to sort things out.
Driving with children is never easy, there’s the constant barrage of questions, a different CD to put on seemingly ever 30 seconds and the dreadful, if slightly ubiquitous, “are we nearly there yet?” being uttered five minutes after you’ve left home. So what can you do to keep kids happy in the car? And are there any ‘old tricks’ you can use if things really start to kick off?

Keeping kids happy – short trips

If you are on the way back from the school run or are visiting parents – any trip which is under 20 minutes or so it’s always a good idea to engage the children in conversation. This might be tricky with toddlers, so a monologue might be called for here. As a parent you’ll know when the kids are about to go wild and you’ll be well aware of the warning signs. At the first inkling of anything which might develop into a problem, try to diffuse the situation by talking about something you know they’ll be interested in. For toddlers this might be chatting about their favourite CBeebies characters or about family members, for older kids it might be chatting about their friends or what they want to do at the weekend. Distraction is the key.

Keeping kids happy – long trips

It’s understandable that kids will get cranky if they’ve been in the car for long periods of time. So it’s important to take regular breaks if you are on a long journey. You might also find that taking things in the car to keep them amused works well – portable DVD players are becoming increasingly popular, but travel games, books and even computer games can be good distraction techniques. If you are really struggling, you can resort to ‘eyespy’ but this should really be kept for those occasions where nothing else works. If you’re driving along and you get the feeling an argument is about to happen it’s best to use the same tactics as you would on longer trips. It’s always better to stop a situation in its tracks rather than ignoring it until it develops into carmageddon.

Jenny Valentine bought her used Smax from She’s got two children who love sitting in the ‘extra’ seats in the back.