For kids, one of the best things about vacation is that they have more of their parents’ attention. We may be able to let go of some of the worries and distractions that consume us during the week and put more time and attention into our children when we’re away with them.

But a lot more contact with a little less stress can mean there’s more room for children to try to heal from harder times. They might be more grumpy then usual, less cooperative, and ripe for a meltdown…or two.

And on top of that, children can feel overwhelmed or nervous in a new environment, or exhausted by a busy sightseeing schedule, or shy with new people around. And sometimes if we’re with in-laws, our own parents, or friends that are judging our children or our parenting, that’s no fun either!

Children can get extra whiny, uncooperative, or upset on vacations, and it’s easy to feel resentful that they’re not more delightful after all we’ve done for them!

So what’s the solution? More attention. I know—you’re with them 24-7! But sometimes when we stop to listen to their upsets with empathy and compassion instead of frustration and anger or we leave our group of friends to spend some one-on-one time with our child, everybody has more fun.

Here’s something to try. Find small pockets of time (or more) when you’re on vacation to give your little one some extra attention by doing something that they want to do. And then delight in them. Whether it’s going out for ice cream, stopping to play their favorite card game, or going to a creek to explore, ask them what they want to do and carve out time just for them. One-on-one time can bring children back on track to a more connected place, and helps parents feel like they’re doing a good job, even when things get tough.

And if your child is full of complaints or meltdowns are more frequent, spend some time doing “staylistening”. Bend down, make eye contact, listen more, and talk less. Let him know that you’ll wait with him while he’s upset. Because the more you ignore the upsets, the more they fester inside.

If you’re headed out for vacation soon or in the middle of one now, remember to stop, slow down, and make more time for connection—especially with a busy schedule or with lots of people around.

Let us know how your summer is going or if you’re having a specific challenge that needs some attention.