Travelling with a grumpy kid

Discussion in 'Disney for Families' started by prairiesarah, Oct 13, 2012.

  1. prairiesarah

    prairiesarah Earning My Ears

    Jul 4, 2012
    I desperately want to take a trip to WDW. I had a trip planned for November but them after a couple of disastrous trips over the summer (one with DH, DS and I and the other with my parents, DS and I which was the worst of the two - mostly because of my mom not dealing well with my energetic DS), so I ended up cancelling the reservation. My just about 7 year old DS tends to get grumpy on vacation and claims he doesn't really want to go to WDW. We have had a few episodes of moodiness/grumpiness for lack of a better description on the last couple of trips we have taken. He is an only child and gets bored when my dh and I want to go shopping or sightseeing or non kid-friendly stuff which really is fair enough - I would have been bored at that age too and that is where the moodiness usually starts from.

    I am hopeful that we could have a great vacation as a trip to WDW can be completely geared towards kids fun stuff. DH and I would have realistic expectations about what we would be seeing and doing this trip (as opposed to our last trip which was our honeymoon at WL). DS says he doesn't want to go, but I also don't think he has any real idea of how awesome it will be. I think it will end up being someplace that he asks to go back for every vacation. He loves rides, swimming and Bolt and Chip and Dale are his favorite characters EVER, so it all fits for what could be an amazing vacation.

    I am just wondering if anyone else has a kid like this and wondering how they fared at WDW?

    What is making this really hard for me is that it has been 11 years since I have been and we are finally in a position where we can afford to take a nice trip and the RO discounts this fall make it even more appealing.

    (Edited to remove a couple of descriptions that looking back weren't really giving the correct idea of what we were dealing with. I have also realized that a lot of the issue comes from the way ds/dh interact and we are working on a way to deal with that).
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  3. DisneyClown

    DisneyClown DIS Veteran

    Feb 6, 2007
    Well, in 2010 we took my then 9 year old stepson and he didn't fare well either. Was a real downer most of the time. I don't think we'd take him again but I wouldn't let that keep me from going if you really want to. I would just try to structure the trip for the enjoyment of all, as in rides and shows you all would like and research how to make the best use of Fastpass so as to minimize the time spent standing around in line. I would also study the layout of the parks and "plan of attack" to minimize time between attractions. The biggest issue for my stepson was pure impatience. It was "too much" to walk from one attraction to another and he actually spent more time in stroller than my 2 year old DD. While I think it's important for a child to learn patience, it doesn't change the fact that it can make the trip unenjoyable for parents. Try it. You won't know until you do. I believe there is a Campfire with Chip and Dale at Camp Wilderness. Good luck!
  4. laceemouse

    laceemouse DIS Veteran

    Apr 20, 2003
    So, he has never been to WDW before? My guess is he really has no idea what it will be like. Also, once kids get in school, especially boys, they start telling each other that Disney is for babies. He probably thinks he is too old and too cool for Disney.

    First of all, I would get the free planning dvd from Disney and watch it with him. Have him watch some of the Disney specials on the travel channel. Then, you could go on youtube and show him some of the ride videos people have made.

    Honestly, I understand that Disney is not for everyone, and some people will never like it. But I also think it is important for any kid to understand that it isn't all about THEM. He needs to understand that being a part of a family sometimes means going to a shop or restaurant that mom and dad will enjoy and being quiet and respectful. He needs to grow up!!

    My oldest daughter is my complainer. When she was young I told her all the time that not every day involves sky diving and mountain climbing. Much of life is sitting and waiting. Deal with it. Luckily, she is very smart and always enjoyed the educational aspect of Disney. Epcot has always been her favorite, she is very interested in other countries and cultures.

    I hope you can show him that Disney is awesome, but if not is there any way you can just leave him with a grandparent or something? Maybe he will decide he does want to go when he sees you planning to leave him behind ;)
  5. mrsbornkuntry

    mrsbornkuntry <font color=FF6666>I'm worried about raccoons<br><

    Jul 8, 2004
    I like these ideas, looking at a planning dvd and the website.

    I have an 8yo that can make things miserable, he has ODD and melts down often. However if we have a family outing planned (always planned taking the kids' interests in mind) he is going and that's that. We generally know what his triggers are and we do try to avoid them so we all can enjoy the trip. If he gets impatient while you're shopping maybe you and your DH can split up, one take him someplace else while the other shops.

    I would not give him a choice about the trip. You and your DH want to go, it's Disneyworld for pete's sake! But if this is for his benefit I would try to gear it as much towards his interests as possible and let him help with the planning.

    That's a good age to introduce little known facts that might interest him, my boys love random facts.
  6. prairiesarah

    prairiesarah Earning My Ears

    Jul 4, 2012
    Thanks to you both for your perspective. I realized I probably didn't elaborate on a couple of things - one is that I think a lot of the issues come from the fact that my DH works 7 days a week, usually about 12 hours a day and I am a SAHM so probably about 90% of the time at home is just DS and I. When we go on vacation, suddenly that dynamic is different with DH in the picture. DS really is a delightful little dude, he just doesn't always do well in new situations and DH doesn't always help with that either and honestly they don't really know how to interact that well with one another when they are together 24/7.

    I don't think it is an issue of kids at school saying anything. He is only in Grade 1 and most of his friends are innocent little guys just like my ds. One of his best friends went last year "to the place where Buzz Lightyear lives" and had the best trip.

    I think we are just going to go for it and see how it goes. If it goes great, WDW will probably be our annual vacation spot. If it doesn't then DH and I will probably take a shorter trip together each year, then a short driving from home vacation with DS. I am hoping DH's schedule will get a bit better and he will be home more over the next couple months so we can work on their interaction and him being used to being around a high energy, talkative just about 7 year old before we go away.
  7. Poohforyou

    Poohforyou DIS Veteran

    Mar 16, 2011
    Wow, that's really sad that your dh & son don't have more time together. Personally if I were in your situation I'd work on changing that even if it meant getting a job.
  8. disykat

    disykat DIS Veteran

    Jun 5, 2000
    Both parents being gone more probably wouldn't fix the situation.:crazy2:

    Sorry, a big pet peeve of mine is when people make assumptions about SAHMs. Most of the SAHMs I know that stay home after their kids start school stay home precisely BECAUSE their spouse works long hours, not forcing their spouse to work long hours to so they can stay home!
  9. Princess on the Run

    Princess on the Run Sprinkling Pixie Dust!!!

    Aug 18, 2012
    My middle DS is always anyone's guess. We told them on the 8th night of Chanukah last year that we are going to WDW for a week and the other 2 were overjoyed and my darling middle child started screaming hysterically that he doesn't want to go. I have it all on video, of course because we thought it would be a magical moment. Ha!

    By the time we got there, he was excited but then it seemed like every morning he was crabby. I have a ton of pictures where he's either looking down or just not in it at all. By about 11am, he perked up and was fine. :confused3 Honestly, it's one of those things where we just tried to work around it because the other 2 were awesome the whole week. And he had a blast and still begs to go back at least once a week. It's just his personality is a times. LOL!!! I am still hoping he grows out if it. :rotfl2:

    As for the dynamic between DS and DH, I have some experience there too. Both DH and I work FT in the same profession but like most working moms, I drop everything and run when the kids need something (plus I was PG and/or nursing for like 6 years straight!) and DH was always the "What do you want from me? I have to work" sort. I tried to just find ways for him to be with the boys within what he could do. I signed him up to coach tee ball (without asking ;) ) and when the boys would ask me about something I knew DH liked, I would say "I don't know, but your daddy is really good with that stuff so ask him" and it helped a ton!!! Also, I think when boys are little, they just want their mommies and it's hard to get between that without causing problems. As they get a little older and into sports or video games, it's an easier transition to slip daddy in and make that "their thing."

    No matter what, parenting is hard!! I also don't like when people make assumptions and suggestions. As a working mom, I deal with an awful lot of stereotypes too and it's not fair to anyone because truly you can't win!!
  10. clm10308

    clm10308 DIS Veteran

    Jun 23, 2010
    If he is not happy doing things with you and your DH, you could always let him stay at one of the resort kid clubs so the grown ups can go and have fun. My DS loves going to those and would think it was a treat.
  11. ilovemk76

    ilovemk76 DIS Veteran

    Oct 20, 2010
    There so many posts on the DIS where the woman says the man works two jobs so she can stay home, do they are doing just what is bolded above.
  12. mwmom

    mwmom 5th Time Disney Visitor

    Oct 8, 2008
    Another idea is to get the Birnbaum's Walt Disney World For Kids book and let him look through and pick out the rides and attractions he would enjoy.
  13. Lisa71

    Lisa71 Adoption Rocks!

    Aug 7, 2011
    I would structure each day and make a clear expectation of what the day will be and the behavior. Then in the middle hire a Mom's helper from Kids night out for a day to go with you and take him where ever he wants as a reward while you and hubby so some other things. You could even do it one day and one night. I would be sure it was later in the trip and a "reward"....we had a great sitter this last time and wish we had arranged for her to be there more. It was only one night but the kids loved her. I would also say "today we are doing X and Y and you can choose Z"...He will have fun.
  14. mzalicia

    mzalicia Mouseketeer

    Feb 14, 2007
    Hi all, I really relate with this thread. My 9-yr-old DS suddenly hated roller coasters this year, a year where we went to DLR twice! No California Screamin'! No Big Thunder Mountain! :(. I'm disappointed but there were so many other attractions we still could enjoy, it was still worth going and we had a great trip.

    My suggestion is to be honest with yourself when you set your expectations that your son, or other travel companions may not want to do everything you do but is there enough overlap so you can all have a good time.
  15. EKW

    EKW DIS Veteran

    Jan 10, 2010
    Buy a guide for kids. Read through it with him, and let him choose some "Must Do"s and "Won't Do"s (if there are things he doesn't want to do).

    Then, go on YouTube and find ride-through videos of the rides and events he really wants to do. Let him know that you are going to make a schedule so that you can use your time wisely, and he won't just be going from one must-do to another, but that he'll get to do all his favorite things while you're there.

    Can you afford a Fairy Godmother? If so, I would plan on early mornings and full days in the park, making sure you plan so that there are a variety of energy levels as you go through the day. Then, at dinner time, take him back to the hotel for an evening at the resort with a Fairy Godmother. You and your DH can return to the parks to do adult things at that time. Save all your shopping, table service meals, etc, for when your son isn't with you. I would pick one day where you get a late start and stay in the Magic Kingdom for the night parade and fireworks.

    If you think it might help, buy a scrapbook before you leave. Buy your son disposable cameras and encourage him to find interesting shots that grown-ups wouldn't see. I have some amazing pictures of WDW that were taken by my boys when they were 7 and 12.

    Good luck!
  16. badblackpug

    badblackpug <font color=blue>If you knew her you would be shoc

    Oct 18, 2005
    OP I see something different.

    I think you need to work with your son on understanding that the world doesn't revolve around him. 6, almost 7, is too old to be having temper tantrums. At this age he should understand the concept of taking turns and understand that sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do.

    Maybe the reason your mother doesn't want to deal with him is because of this behavior. I would find a 6 year old that tried to control adults very tiresome.

    I think sometimes when we spend so.much time with the kids it is easier to just bend to their schedule and desires that when others are thrown into the mix that they have trouble not being the center of attention.

    I have to disagree with the rest. I wouldn't even plan a trip until you are sure he is not going to be miserable, and by extension, make everyone else miserable. That's a lot of money to spend to never get to do anything you want to do.
  17. Southern Bell

    Southern Bell DIS Veteran

    Mar 22, 2011
    I understand where you are coming from and where your son is coming from. My husband is more strict than I am I guess you could say. So when he is in the picture (now with the grandkids) it makes a little more tension in the day! LOL! Your son is reaching that age of probably wanting a friend to go with him on vacation. I can remember my last trip at Disney or vacation with my daughter by ourselves is when she was 10. We stayed for about 2 weeks and did everything she wanted. We were worn out! LOL! But is one of my favorite memories of being with her on vacation at Disney. She or my husband liked to stand and watch me shop, so sometimes I told them to go ride something and I would meet them later. That seemed to work!
  18. cornflake

    cornflake DIS Veteran

    Jul 31, 2011
    It's understandable that a kid - or anyone, it's not like I'm having a fantastic time at the dry cleaners or the bank either - is bored running errands or whatever (though I don't see how sightseeing isn't "kid friendly"); it's NOT understandable that this results in a tantrum or what have you, past the age of like 3.

    A three-year-old can get away, for a couple minutes, with flinging themselves onto the floor of Bergdorf's or wherever, and moaning that they can no longer go on with life, as bored as they are.

    A seven-year-old, imo, is told that we have to run these errands and go to the shop and tantrums or outbursts because you don't feel like it are completely unacceptable.

    The idea you're making Disney completelt kid-friendly is giving him WAY too much control over everyone. Again, if you were talking about a 2-year-old, that's different; you adjust, take breaks, go at their pace more. A school-aged child who has to have everything his way, to entertain him at all times in the way he wants or he's going to make everyone miserable? Just no. Suck it up, buttercup, the world doesn't revolve around you - as BadBlackPug said.

    I'd explain that tantrums and outbursts are completely unacceptable and will result in punishment of X kind. Also that vacations and everything else (errands, sightseeing, etc.) are things that either must be done, thus there is no negotiation, or can be done, thus we may negotiate.

    That you have to go to the market, dry cleaners, whatever? Non-negotiable. You have to go, you have to act civilized. Later, we can do something more fun but errands are errands, such is life.

    You want to go tour the Picasso exhibit for an hour and he hates Picasso? Negotiate. You'll all spend 45 minutes at Picasso and then you'll all spend 45 minutes at an activity he wants to do.
  19. Angel Ariel

    Angel Ariel DIS Veteran

    May 1, 2006
    how can you ever be *sure* a child will be one way or another in a situation they've never been in before?

    Personally, I'd just plan the trip and go. If you wait until your absolutely positive the child may not be grumpy at all, you may never go. My parents always took the philosophy of "we're going because we want to go (wherever it was), and because we're both going, you're coming with us." Of course they planned things that would interest us, but they didn't cater to our every desire either. Was there grumpiness on occasion? i'm sure there was. My brother and I didn't always get along ;) But they always felt like we'd never learn to handle different situations without actually being in those situations, so we always went places.

    In the OP's scenario, I wouldn't plan an entirely kid friendly trip. I'd plan at least one night, if possible, to bring the child to one of the kids clubs or to have a fairy godmother or something so that the OP and her DH could go and do something alone..maybe dinner at CG or somewhere special. I;d also make sure there's a plan of consequences in place if the child decides to throw temper tantrums while at WDW. WWYD if he starts throwing a temper tantrum in line? in a restaurant? Waiting for a parade/fireworks? Have a plan and follow through, and enjoy your vacation!
  20. badblackpug

    badblackpug <font color=blue>If you knew her you would be shoc

    Oct 18, 2005

    The OP said her 1st attempts at vacations were disastrous. That the child threw tantrums when he didn't get what he wanted. He said he didn't want to go to WDW. I'm thinking that this is going to be one huge tantrum because it wasn't what HE wanted or because they are doing something at that moment that he didn't want to do. I would not risk thousands of dollars to be made miserable dragging around a miserable child.

    I would work on this child's behavior 1st. I would make sure that he understands that family vacations are about the whole family, not just him. That, while we would do things he wanted to do, he would have to compromise and dothings other people wanted to do. Really, 6 almost 7, is old enough to understand this, and is way too old to be having temper tantrums.

    I would start with shorter, cheaper trips to get him used to this and used to the fact that there will be consequences for tantrums. I don't think the issue here is vacations, or the type of vacations, I think the issue is the child's behavior.
  21. Marionnette

    Marionnette <font color=deeppink>Wishing On A Star<br><font co

    Sep 26, 2009
    I disagree. It may be true that you cannot guarantee that a child will act in a certain way when in a new situation, past behavior can be a very good predictor of how a child will act. The OP says that her son had two disastrous (her word) vacations recently. Both vacations involved being with adults the child has not been around much on a daily basis. It stands to reason that the same kind of behavior can be expected on a Disney vacation.

    I applaud the OP for knowing her son well enough to cancel the trip she had planned. I would hate to spend all that money and have a miserable vacation. I think that she should plan a Disney trip far into the future. In the meantime, she should make efforts for her son to spend more time interacting with Dad and grandparents, perhaps without her in the picture. The dynamics of her son's relationships with other adults needs to be worked out between him and them. Sometimes we moms have a tendency to come in between when we think that things are not going in a positive direction.

    If possible, take a few short child-oriented trips between now and when she plans to go to Disney. I'm not talking about Mommy & Me trips. I'm talking about family trips with Mom, Dad and Son. They can be a picnic at the park or an overnight to a special place. Anything to improve the way that the family interacts when they are together. If those dynamics improve by the time the final payment for the Disney trip rolls around, then great. If not, then postpone the trip again and keep working on it.

    There is no magical bubble over Disney World that will change a difficult child into an easy-going angel. And contrary to the commercials, a family that has problems getting along at home is not going to be magically transformed into the Brady Bunch when they enter Disney property.

    Good luck, OP. I hope your son and husband can strengthen their relationship and you eventually get to make that family trip to see Chip and Dale.

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