Tween Whining: How to Avoid it at the Airport

The airport can be an uneventful place at the best of times and for tweens it’s even worse. Cue: the tween whining. There are playgrounds for younger children and spas for adults, but what about tweens? We all groan about things like security checks, customs, waiting in line and encountering those annoying seat hoggers and for tweens it’s even worse.

For a young child, whining is a request for attention and with so few words at their disposal, whining sums it all up. As for tween whining, the reasons shockingly aren’t that different. Tweens find themselves in a confusing spot – one foot in the child world that doesn’t feel quite right and one foot in the teen world that doesn’t feel quite right either.

All parents hate whining and go to great lengths to avoid hearing it – and kids are smart enough to know it grates against their parents’ nerves like nails on a chalkboard. That, mixed with the puppy-dog-eyes is a deadly combination used to get what they want. But what do they want?

How to Avoid Tween Whining At the Airport:


Discuss with your tween what will happen at the airport.

Explain that once through security, seating choices may be less than comfortable and possibly crowded. Would the tween like to sit between you and other travel companions to have a little space? Maybe a spot on the floor near a window to give them a little more breathing room? Let them know their options.

Come digitally prepared.

Plan ahead and make sure everything is charged up. Don’t count on there always being free wifi. Just in case, download entertainment ahead of time. Also, bring headphones to allow tweens to listen to music, watch a show or play games without disturbing others.

Think about their favourite foods.

Exploring the ends of the Earth is wonderful, but sometimes familiarity feels really comforting. What does your tween usually like to eat? Pack snacks or treats for them that they’re used to having. Sometimes even just a piece of chocolate makes everything better!

Talk to them about what they’re feeling.

It’s easy for a parent to think of a vacation as ‘downtime’ but in reality parents are on call 24/7. If your tween is whining, take a deep breath and see if you can engage them. Tell them about a show you have watched or something funny on social media. Sometimes, they just need you and it’s easy to forget this when they are now almost as tall as you are!

Always make sure to have a “Bag of Tricks”.

Being a parent means always being prepared – that doesn’t change even though kiddo is a tween!

What’s in my Bag of Tricks:

Jokes: “Why did the chicken cross the road?”
Word Games: “How many names that start with K can you list in 10 seconds?”
Story Starters: “The night was dark and stormy when suddenly a crash was heard!” Each person adds a sentence.
Conversation Starters: “If you could go back in time to change something, what time would you choose and why?”

If it’s really bad, just ignore them.

When all else fails and your tween is determined to be grumpy and whiny the best course of action is to ignore. Sometimes they feel miserable (hormones, perhaps?) and just need to stew silently in their own juices – emphasis on silently. If you haven’t already, consider a parent mantra. Mine is, “Be nice or be quiet.” Kids need to feel validated and heard but that is no excuse for bringing everyone down.

A little foresight, some planning and patience can turn a layover into an event to look forward to. No more tween whining at the airport!

Natalie Tanner

Loves teaching parents how to travel WITH the kids while making it educational and fun for everyone.

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