How YOU can help a parent with a screaming child on a plane

We’ve all been there. You settle into your airplane seat, pull out your book and the plane takes off. Then it happens. You are jolted out of your trashy romance novel and pushed into the realm of the screaming child. Well, you won’t put up with this. No! You are going to give dirty looks, snicker with your neighbor and huff as the mother walks by trying to hush her baby. You paid good money for your seat. You don’t have to put up with this!

Ummm… OK.

How about this? How about instead of getting annoyed, you get proactive. Don’t get mad at the parents who dared to bring their screaming child onboard a plane, and probably paid more for their seats than you did if they didn’t get the message about the crazy airfare sale you saw because they were mopping up messes and rushing the kids to daycare. Next time see how you can help. Not sure where to start? Here are seven ideas to get you on the right track.

Don’t look at the parent with pity

Pity looks make a parent feel worse. Many already feel bad because the media and other travelers make us feel like we are monsters for even daring to interrupt the sanctity of a quiet flight (let’s not mention that guy snoring or lady talking way too loud at the front of the plane).

Do NOT make a snide comment

Do not even think about saying “oh, that must be the kid screaming at the back of the plane,” as a parent walks by rocking and shushing their baby who is either tired or suffering from ear pain.

Offer the parent coffee or wine

Caffeine to keep them going or wine to mellow them out. Either one will work. Parents are not immune to the sounds of a screaming child. It puts us on edge more than anyone else on the plane. If you have a nice flight crew they may give you a bottle of wine to offer for free. If not, well that $7 tiny bottle of cheap California wine will make a big difference in someone’s day. Pay it forward people.

Sneak them chocolate

No, not the kid, the parent. Remember when you were a kid and you got a special treat? Well, parents need special treats too, and chocolate can do wonders for your outlook on life.

Do not touch the child

Many times kids are crying because they are just tired and overwhelmed. Touching that child will add to their sensory overload. Keep your hands to yourself. Offer up genuine smiles, but no pats on the baby’s back or head please.

Stay quiet

Ask if you can grab a beverage from the flight attendants for mom or dad. These little gestures do help, but what will help us most of all is if you keep quiet, don’t expect us to make idle chitchat unless we initiate it, and just let us do our job. It’s not that we don’t want to talk. We really do. All our energy is just on the most important person in our world at that moment and our efforts are for the good of all passengers on the plane.

Do not expect anyone to give you treats or wine

There seems to be a growing trend with some parents to buy wine for their fellow passengers if their child cries or even bring goodie bags on board to bribe fellow passengers with before their children have even made a sound. I don’t understand this. Why do we need to pay our fellow passengers to be kind and understanding human beings? Do I need to bribe you when I’m at the mall or at the beach with my kids? No. Why would I do it on a plane? If I am doing everything I can to keep my kids entertained and out of your way, you shouldn’t need anything else, except maybe the good sense to invest in some noise canceling headphones for your flights.

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3 thoughts on “How YOU can help a parent with a screaming child on a plane”

  1. Jenna

    My son had a problem with his ear on a recent flight, and while he didn’t scream, he was definitely crying a lot. I felt terrible for him because he was obviously in pain. Fortunately, it was the first time this has happened in 6+ years of flying with our kids. I definitely agree about not touching the child or getting too close when the child is upset–that can just make it worse for most kids.

  2. tripsbylance

    “It puts us on edge more than anyone else on the plane,” I couldn’t say that better myself. Our only child is almost 8, so we are pretty far removed from baby crying at night panic attacks. But when I hear a baby cry fear rushes into my body. It’s the reflex of those awful nights of screaming. Parents hear that sound more than non-parents, and I think it’s safe to say we are certainly aware of the situation.

  3. Katie Featherstone

    Thanks for this, I always wonder how is best to act in this situation.

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