A recent Australian survey revealed that around 20 percent of parents sedate their children for long journeys.
The survey, commissioned by insurer GIO, looked at the driving habits of parents who travel long distances by car. A total of 3,700 parents responded to the survey, detailing how they keep children entertained on long car journeys.
It is a shockingly high number of parents admitted to using the drugs for more relaxed car journeys.
Why do parents sedate their children on long journeys
Unfortunately, this risky practice isn’t unusual, with many children subjected to sedation using drugs such as Phenergan.
The majority of parents relied on electronics to make the journey easier. Hand-held games were a popular choice with in-car DVD players also proving high on the list. However, most parents also kept a hidden stash of treats in the car to help calm fractious children.
But then came the biggest shock result – around 1 in 5 respondents admitted that they sedate their children to make long journeys easier.
Why they do it?
Sedatives such as antihistamine can be purchased over the counter, however, it is not designed to be used as a tranquilizer during long car or plane journeys. The drug can do wonders for people suffering from allergies, but it is clearly being abused by parents.
While a quiet and stress-free trip sounds wonderful, the risks must be taken very seriously.
One commonly used sedative, Phenergan, should not be used on children under two years of age because of the risk of fatal respiratory depression. It is also important to note that any medicine should never be used unless it is medically necessary.
It’s not fun being asked whether you’re there yet every three minutes during a cross country trip, however, using sedatives should not be your first go-to solution just for peace and quiet. If your little one is genuinely suffering from travel sickness, it would be warranted. But using powerful drugs without cause is dangerous.
What are your options?
Better options for keeping kids happy on long car or plane journeys include books, games, coloring in, tablets and watching movies. Keeping a good stock of snacks and planning for plenty of stops along the way can also help weary little travelers.
Long car journeys aren’t always easy, but if you plan ahead and make sure you have plenty of entertainment and snacks up your sleeves, you can have a stress-free journey.
Another worrying finding of the survey was over half of all parents threaten to stop the car and leave the children behind.
While it may seem obvious to an adult that it’s an empty threat, it can be scary for a child to feel threatened with abandonment in such a way. Fear of abandonment is terrifying for adults, let alone helpless children who would not survive without a carer.
Not only that, but when you threaten your child with something and don’t follow through (and I am absolutely not suggesting to actually leave your children behind), you run the risk of your children realizing that you don’t follow through and will not respect the boundaries which you do set. All of these childhood experiences and things said and done to them will shape the person a child will become.
If you want your children to feel loved unconditionally, threatening them with being left behind isn’t the right answer. And neither is sedating them.
What’s wrong with a good old-fashioned game of I-Spy?
Recommended Reading: If you have a long car journey coming up, take a look at BellyBelly’s article:
Flying With A Toddler – 15 Tips And Ideas for inspiration.