Dear Ilana and Jess: My daughter struggles with travel anxiety and has a big trip overseas coming up. How can I help her actually enjoy her time away? - Merida
Dear Merida: Preparation is the antidote to anxiety. Because travel is something that many people do infrequently, it can be difficult to become desensitized to it. In turn, travel feels foreign and can be conflated with something threatening to the anxious person. Although you can’t necessarily do a dry run when it comes to flying, you can help your daughter take charge of all other advance preparations. To do so —
Be proactive about packing. Let your daughter take the lead by creating a list of what she needs. If she isn’t sure, there are plenty of online resources that can serve as a reference. If she finds the array of lists online overwhelming, select one for her and have her stick to it. The more control your daughter has, the less anxious she’s likely to feel.
Research the trip in advance. Leave nothing ambiguous. If your daughter has an itinerary, review it with her. If she doesn’t, create one. Google the locale, activities, hotel; any contextual information that’s relevant to her trip. Really get to know the place; for example, your daughter might follow the hotel’s Instagram page or the hashtags for the cities she’s traveling to. Make sure you also nail down transportation to and from the airport each way, so she knows exactly what to expect, in terms of navigation.
Write out the fears. Help your daughter identify what, exactly, she’s concerned about. Most often these fears, while very real to her, will be objectively irrational. For each realistic fear, create a plan to deal with the worst-case scenario. For example, if your daughter is worried about losing her luggage, help her outline the steps she can take to reclaim it. Research the appropriate contact information and have your daughter make a note in her phone. You can construct similar plans for all worst-case scenarios. In addition, your daughter should know how to use her insurance information and access medical care abroad.
Finally, have your daughter make a list of all that she has to look forward to on this trip. Remind her that the best-case scenarios are the most likely scenarios when traveling for fun. Pair each list item with pictures and specifics. Consider adding new activities your daughter is interested in to the itinerary, to really ramp up the excitement.
Say This: “Sweetie, I want you to enjoy this trip and feel prepared. It’s going to be a good thing! To start, make a packing list. I’ll help you review it when you’re done. Then, let’s take a look at your itinerary so you feel familiar with everything on it. When you’re done, I want you to write out your fears so we can prepare for any tricky situations. Then, we’ll make a list of all the things you’re looking forward to the most — that’s where your focus should be.”
Not That: “What are you worried about?! It’s going to be fun.”
Say This, Not That is based on the work of Cognition Builders: a global, educational company headed by Ilana Kukoff (Founder & CEO) and Jessica Yuppa Huddy (Chief Learning Officer). Everywhere from New York City to California to Shanghai to Zurich, the Cognition Builders team is called upon by A-list entertainers, politicians, CEOs, and CFOs to resolve the conflicts that upend everyday life. When their work is done, the families they serve are stronger than ever. With their new book, Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter Kukoff and Yuppa Huddy have selected the most common conversational mistakes parents make, and fixed them. For more information, please visit: https://cognitionbuilders.com. To purchase Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter visit: http://publishing.andrewsmcmeel.com/books/detail?sku=9781449488055.
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