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11/23/22 blog post

did you know traveling encourages family bonding?

Family traveling on airplane, mom, dad, and young boy

Navigating family vacations and travel with kids can be complicated. However, traveling with children can also be a fun learning opportunity! We sat down with Mary Beth DeWitt, PhD, chief of child psychology at Dayton Children’s Hospital, to look at the positive relationship between traveling and family bonding.

why are events such as family trips important to family bonding? and how about when the trip is annual or a tradition?

Family vacations and travel can contribute to bonding, which is an important variable in development. Our relationships from early childhood help us develop later relationships which, when healthy, contribute to our positive self-esteem, resilience and happiness. Our lives are becoming so busy, that it is sometimes hard to get away to facilitate and foster those relationships. Travel and vacations in some ways protects that time to share new adventures, strengthen our bonds and increase wellbeing. It may serve to enhance relationships though physical and emotional connections. What remains important is staying engaged with children and with families. The quality time is what is important, not necessarily a lavish vacation. 

and what about families who choose the same destination? what does making a place special like that mean?

This may serve the function of a routine. Family routines and rituals are alive and well and are associated with marital satisfaction, adolescents' sense of personal identity, children's overall health, academic achievement and stronger family relationships.

Routines and predictability are important for children, so as the American Psychological Association comments, common routines are bedtime, chores, dinnertime and everyday activities. Rituals include holidays, birthdays, reunions, all of which are important and contribute to family bonding.

what do these trips do for a child's development?

Special time with families contributes to quality time, to engagement, to relationship building and bonding which are associated with overall health and wellbeing. 

what does traveling together do for family dynamics?

A shared experience can contribute to fond memories, topics for discussion and reminiscence over time. Healthy families spend time together and parents model stress management and coping.

“I don't want families to expect that they have to travel to have good family bonding.” says Dr. DeWitt. “Small activities to stay engaged, such as outings to the park, family game nights, and regular conversations about their days, can contribute to relationship building." 

Additional research can be found here:

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Mary Beth DeWitt, PhD.

division chief behavioral health, psychology
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