Whether you're taking a trip to the grocery store or flying to another country, there is one thing you should do to increase the chances of success when out and about with kids: set expectations.

The Childwise book series says, “children will rise to the expectations of their parents.” Kids are capable of much more than we think. So spell out the plan and explain what's required of them.

If you’re going to the store, talk through the process. Explain what you expect them to do while you shop together (carefully steer the cart, pick the perfect peach, sniff out the sweetest tulips).


For bigger trips, give kids the travel rundown and again, explain what you expect them to do (help pack, go quietly through security, hold hands with a little sis). Demonstrate complexities like boarding and deplaning. Then repeat what you've discussed, and remind them what's expected along the way.


For a more exciting setup, take a tip from Finding Nemo with something like, "Alright, little dudes, we're gonna to have a great flight today! Find your airplane buddy! Do you have your airplane buddy...?" 

Like Marlin, kids may not understand everything that's about to happen, but if they understand our expectations for them, they'll be better able to meet and exceed them so that we can all enjoy the ride.