Once, I saw my husband showing our daughter some YouTube videos of the rides at a local theme park. These were not the new wild rides, but the slow kiddie ones. He pointed out the details. “See, you drive around in a loop,” he said. She stared at the screen intently.
Later, when we visited that theme park, my daughter confidently got in line for ride after ride. This was somewhat of a shock, as she’s typically pretty anxious when trying something new. Those boring YouTube videos really helped — being able to see exactly what she was in for ahead of time helped calm any nerves.
Jamie, a mum of a four-year-old with an anxiety disorder, tells me this is actually her favourite parenting hack.
“I YouTube the shit out of any activity we’re doing,” she says. “I’ll Instagram her new dance teacher. I’ll YouTube Disneyland’s Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. I show, show, show in advance. It works every time.”
Nowadays you can find a video for just about anything your kid is about to experience, whether it’s going through airport security, ride the subway in New York City or visiting the dentist for the first time. Pictures and maps can help, too. (You might scroll through a location’s images on Instagram or Google.)
The trick is to over-prepare them for the activity. Show them the waiting area. Tell them who will be there. You want them to be like, “OK, OK Mum/Dad. I get it.”
Then hopefully, your kid will enter the new place, take a sigh of relief, and say, “Oh, I’ve seen this before.”