Parents who travel with young children know all too well that a constant dose of new places requires creative and innovative approaches to helping sons and daughters get past irrational—and totally normal—kid fears.
Some kids might need help with overcoming the notion of eating vegetables. Others might require moral support to wrap their heads around sleeping with a blanket they don’t know.
In our family, the issue is automatically flushing toilets; my older daughter is terrified of them.
If you’ve followed my work over the years, you know I first wrote about this issue almost exactly one year ago. Since then, L’s issues with the “Magic Eyes” that control auto-flushing toilets have gotten worse. She equates them to torture (literally). She’ll hold in a pee for hours if she knows a bathroom has a toilet with a Magic Eye. And if she sees one, the damn thing becomes the subject of conversation for the next four hours.
(For the record, those automatic flushers really *are* annoying; especially when they decide you’ve finished your business and you haven’t.)
After a month in Hawaii last year, Powerwoman and I thought we devised a workaround to this phobia: We started taking cloth napkins with us everywhere to “blindfold” any Magic Eyes we encountered.
Mercifully, a friend recently suggested a more portable alternative: Post-it notes.
So far, in the name of “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion,” this new strategy appears to be working; this week, on two separate occasions at two different restaurants out and about, L was eager to apply Post-its and do her thang. As we get closer to our four-month stint in London (we leave Aug. 20), we’ll give her more experiences with Post-its with a goal to crack her of this phobia completely.
Do we think this new approach is a long-term fix? Not by a long shot (sorry, 3M). But at this point, after years of battling the Magic Eyes, we’ll take any minor victories we can get.
What sort of irrational fears do your kids exhibit while traveling?