We鈥檝e all been on those flights with screaming kids聽and totally felt for the parents, giving them understanding smiles when they looked around apologetically. Whether it鈥檚 on a flight to your next outdoor adventure or in line at the grocery store, we鈥檝e all been there. Even if you鈥檙e聽parent of the year, or you鈥檝e watched the best (and most hilarious!) parenting advice, it just might not be enough to prevent the whining later. Fortunately, health practitioner and single dad, Aki Lalani, is sharing his聽tips from his many transatlantic flights to keep tantrums at bay and make the flight more enjoyable for everyone.

happy child girl playing with toy airplane. the dream of becoming a pilot

Expert Advice for Flying With Kids

1. Get your child excited about flying.聽Having a smooth trip starts long before arriving at the airport. When you first start planning, get your kids involved in the process. Aki advises, 鈥淗elping them feel involved and part of the team gets them to take ownership of the experience, making travel easier. Show them a picture of the plane type you鈥檒l be traveling on. Have a conversation about the sorts of things that he/she can bring along and do a countdown for the flight (and not the holiday) to make the first adventure about the journey itself.鈥

2. Involve them in the packing process.聽Comforts of home are a huge part of successful transitions for kids. Even though it鈥檚 tempting to get all the packing done for them, try taking a minute to teach them about it.

鈥淒efinitely let the child take responsibility for their stuff. It鈥檚 the only thing on the journey that will be familiar from their world and it鈥檚 important they have what makes them feel safe.鈥 Another great tip from Aki is to use a child-friendly bag like the trunki. They鈥檙e more for introducing independence than high-volume packing, so you鈥檒l probably fit in their favorites 鈥 stuffed animals and warm travel clothes 鈥 while putting the bulk of their items into your own bag.

Cropped shot of a young mother and her daughter at home

3. Make sure they feel loved and secure. 鈥淗old them! When kids are bored, tired and fed up, a cuddle will be the only thing that comforts them. You鈥檒l be amazed at other passengers offering to help with bags.鈥 Security can be an overwhelming and somewhat boring time, so Aki also recommends playing simple games like eye spy or the alphabet game.

He also offers聽a healthy reminder that kids are kids, and they do have limits. 鈥淟et them express their frustration by crying, and reassure them that you understand why they are upset. The situation will calm much quicker than forcing them to stop making so much noise. Let other people judge you. They either don鈥檛 have kids, or have forgotten what it鈥檚 like to travel with them.鈥

Boy and parents on airplane

4. Distract during delays.聽Travel is spent mostly sitting around waiting, and while we鈥檝e all mastered zoning out and covert people watching, your little ones probably need a bit more than that. Aki says, 鈥淐hildren respond well when they know what鈥檚 happening. If it鈥檚 a night flight, get them into pajamas, complete with teddy bear. Read a bedtime story and set the tone for it being bedtime on the plane. If it鈥檚 a day flight, allow them to review what鈥檚 in their travel bag. Try to avoid too much stimulation. I鈥檝e tried both 鈥 letting her run around before the flight and sitting quietly and having a cuddle 鈥 for us, the latter worked far better. Every child is different, so use your parental intuition here.鈥

5. Make the flight an experience to remember.聽When you鈥檝e finally made it onto the plane, help your child get settled. 鈥淩emember: A child will mirror your energy. If you are relaxed about the event, they will respond accordingly. The signal you send out is that all is well and it鈥檚 a safe place for the child to be.鈥

Aki also recommends having your arsenal of toys and surprises ready. He uses the trick of wrapping up his daughter鈥檚 craft supplies separately so she gets to open them as gifts. Crayons and coloring books are especially easy ones to use as rewards throughout the flight for good behavior. But he warns that it has 鈥渁 sweet spot of about five times before it gets boring,鈥 so try not to overdo it.

Happy mother hugging her daughter with love and natural emotion smiling with closed eyes

4 Easy Essentials for Flying With Kids

1. Buy: a last-minute treat at the airport for a good behavior reward. Avoid candy if possible!

2. Devise: a strategy for ear popping during take off and landing, showing your child how to swallow, or giving them frequent sips from a straw to reduce pressure.

3. Bring: complex-carb snacks, since kids are notorious picky eaters.

4. Carry:聽more than one change of clothes for your child 鈥 you just never know.

What super-parent tricks have you found that work wonders on travel days? Send us your tips @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)