The 2012 summer travel season is here and theme parks from coast to coast are rolling out all-new, ever-daring thrill rides.
For parents hoping that this is the year their child musters the courage to take that first roller coaster adventure, it’s a tough call: do they encourage, bribe or shame their kids into facing their fears?Ā Or let them decide for themselves?
This summer, LEGOLANDĀ® Florida, Central Floridaās newest theme park, is helping families deal with Veloxrotaphobia, or fear of roller coasters, by arming parents with āRoller Coaster Readinessā tips.
Leadership at the park reached out to nationally-recognized psychologist and award-winning author Dr. Susan Bartell to create tools for both guests and employees to help parents manage these challenging situations.
āOur junior roller coasters offer just the right blend of speed and thrill that make LEGOLAND Florida the perfect spot for kids to ride their very first roller coaster,ā says Adrian Jones, LEGOLAND Florida general manager.Ā āBut because we know the āpink knuckleā nature of these attractions doesnāt mitigate a first timerās fears, we wanted to provide resources to parents as well as our model citizens to ensure that every first plunge is a positive experience for the entire family.ā
According to Bartell, there are a host of mistakes parents commonly make when it comes to handling their childās fear of roller coasters.
āDismissing a childās fear, comparing them to a sibling or friend, bribing them with gifts and money, or labeling a child with a negative name based on their reluctance wonāt make them any braver,ā says Bartell.Ā āIn fact those strategies often cause greater anxiety, and resentment and make them more reluctant, not to mention ruin what should be a great day for the family.ā
Brochures featuring the tips will be available online and at the front gate and include things families can do before they leave home and during the day, as well as ways to manage
a melt-down and ways to celebrate at the end of the day.Ā
Before Your Trip
Bartell suggests starting at home with these tips before leaving on the trip.Ā
- Learn Online ā Young children (especially those who are anxious), donāt like surprises. So, visit the LEGOLAND Florida website with your child and look at the different attractions, discussing how much fun each one will be.
- Tell a Story ā Talk to your child about fun roller-coaster experiences that you and other people had when they were kids. Be as animated, silly and positive as possible.
What to do When You Get to the Park
- Focus on Fun ā As you arrive, review the park map and point out all the fun attractions, not just the roller coasters.
- Take it Slow ā Invite your child to pick which attractions she most wants to experience. If she is reluctant to try the roller coasters, begin with at least a couple of her choices.
As the Day Continuesā¦
- Watch and Learn ā When some people in your party are eager to try a roller coaster, donāt split up. Rather, watch the roller coaster ride with your reluctant child, all the time commenting excitedly about how much fun it looks and how happy and excited kids are as they come off the ride. Point out that kids coming off the ride do not look scared and are not crying.
- Nervous is Normal ā Explain that while riding a roller coaster, it is normal to feel a little nervous, scream, close your eyes, and squeeze someoneās hand ā in fact, it is part of the fun. Explain that feeling a bit nervous doesnāt mean you are too scared to go on the roller coaster.
At the End of the Dayā¦
- No Regrets ā If your child expresses regret that he didnāt try the roller coaster, donāt make him feel bad. Now that the day is over, itās easy for him to ābe brave.ā Instead, remind him there is always a next time, and that he should focus on the rides he enjoyed and the fun that was had by all.