Last week, we flew from Seattle to Long Beach to take my grandson to Disneyland. He had never been on an airplane before and this was his first trip to Disneyland. Here are five things I learned about children through the experience.
One: Children Need Their Curiosity Satisfied, not Quenched.
Children are naturally curious and the only way for them to satisfy that curiosity is to ask questions. At the Seattle airport and on the plane, some of his questions (that he asked many times) were: “Are we getting on that plane?” “Are we going way up in the sky?” “Are we going to Disneyland?” “Are we taking off?” “Are we up in the air yet?” “What is that mountain down there?” “Are we landing?” “Did we land?” “Where are we going now?” And you can imagine all the questions he had when we were renting a car, checking into the hotel, driving to Disneyland, taking the Disney bus to the park, and when we were at Disneyland.
We answered all of his questions, every time, not matter how many times he asked the same one. Sometimes, we stopped, picked him up or dropped down to his level, to explain things in detail. Had I asked him to not ask the same question twice or ignored him, he would have eventually stopped the questions and learning would also have ceased.
Two: Children Want to Know What is Coming Up.
When we landed in Long Beach, he wanted to know exactly what was going to happen. We told him, we were going to get a car, then drive it to the hotel, and then go to In and Out Burger (the best burger in the world, and where he ate a whole burger for the first time). Of course, he wanted to know if we were going to Disneyland after that. We told him, we would go tomorrow, when we woke up. At least ten times, he asked us to give him the schedule again and we did. That made a big difference for him.
Three: Children Want to Understand the Reasons for Rules.
Disneyland has many rules. Some of them are: Wait your turn, keep your hands inside the boat at Pirates and Small World, stay behind the chains, and don’t stand on the walls. The great thing is; all the rules have very good reasons, such as consideration for others and especially safety. The number of times we had to remind him of the rules are too many to count, but each time, when we gave him the reason for the rule, he was OK with it.
Four: Children Need Balance Between Free Choice and Following a Schedule.
We had a two day pass. The first half of the first day, we determined the schedule because we knew what attractions and rides to visit. My grandson quickly picked out his favorites (Buz Lightyear, Pirates, Lightning McQueen racecars, Splash Mountain, and he let us know he wanted to do those things more than once. We did Buz Lightyear four times and Pirates two times. Splash Mountain and Lightning McQeeen’s lines were too long, which leads me to another very important point: Explain when things change. When arriving at Splash Mountain for a second ride, the line was over an hour long. We explained it to him, he was fine with it, and asked if he could go on Buz Lightyear again.
Five: Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep.
When he asked if he could go on Splash Mountain again, we told him, “We will go there and see if we can get on.” Had we promised him he could go on, and backed out, something terrible would have happened; he would have been disappointed in us. Disappointments like that damage relationships because they are built on trust.