goodManners: Proper Carpool Etiquette

It’s that time again: back to school time. For most parents that also means the beginning of after school activities.

Whether you have more than one child, work, like to take an occasional break from constantly chauffeuring your child, or any combination of the three – carpooling is frequently the answer.

I’m sure most of us have horror stories of when things didn’t quite work out – like the time it took me 10 minutes to convince a little girl that sitting in a booster seat and wearing her seat belt is mandatory in my car, or when someone discarded his half eaten lollypop on the back of my seat, or when he screamed “boo” just for fun – but I digress.

I personally take carpooling very seriously and have found that when done with the right group of parents and children it can be extremely helpful.

I sometimes carpool with a little boy who is the epitome of the perfect carpool child. He is ready and waiting when I get there, adheres to my car rules, greets everyone in the car when he enters and thanks me when he leaves. This delightful child always has something positive to say and is a pleasure to be around. Quite simply, he and his Mom display good carpool etiquette.

Here are a few things to consider when setting up a carpool arrangements and suggestions that may help your child display good carpool etiquette.

Safety – First and foremost in carpool situations is safety. The goal is to make arrangements with good drivers and to make sure everyone gets to and from the activities safely.

Children should clearly understand they should not do anything that might distract the driver – this means no loud or rowdy behavior, and making sure nothing obscures the driver’s vision. 

Good communication between carpool parents – Carpool parents should identify a line of communication if the agreed upon carpool arrangements need to be altered for any reason – like sudden illness, car problems, traffic issues, etc. In my carpools all participants keep a list of emergency contacts phone numbers for all the children, in the event plans need to be changed. Also, if you can notify the carpool’s participants in advance, everyone involved usually will appreciate that.

Car passenger rules – In a kind and polite way mention to the children your car passenger rules. They may include all or some the following: no food, no beverages, the driver controls the music, no bad language or hurtful conversation, no rough play.

It’s also considerate for a carpool child to be ready and waiting when the driver comes to pick-up.

Greetings and Thank You – This may seem like extra credit, but it’s really just common courtesy to greet the driver and car participants when you enter the car. I tell children it’s nice to do when they are buckling their seat belt. Children should also remember to always thank the driver.