Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Kids Need Direction When Traveling to the City

DEAR HARRIETTE: I live by a big city, and I try to get my children into the city to see museums, plays and authors. Although we have an excellent experience once we are in the city, controlling my children on the train is a whole other beast. They go up to strangers, scream and are generally disruptive. I am so embarrassed yet don't know what to do. -- Wild Children, Denver

DEAR WILD CHILDREN: Change your strategy. Before you go anywhere, talk to your children about what to expect. This instruction must be extremely specific. Include not running, using inside voices and staying with their parents. When traveling on any kind of public transportation, your children need to understand what is expected of them, including how to get a ticket, the importance of being still in order to give other passengers room, and the requirement to stay with the family and to be quiet. Reiterate to them what behaviors they should exemplify when they are in public, and have them practice at home. Let them know that the reward for good behavior is to have wonderful experiences engaging others. The penalty for bad behavior is that they will not be able to enjoy any of these things. They may need a few times when they are denied the opportunity to go places so that the consequences are obvious.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My co-worker and I recently learned that we live in the same neighborhood. She suggested we begin carpooling to work, and I agreed -- only to be polite. Now, she is attempting to create a schedule with me. I know I should carpool to reduce emissions, but I value my alone time in the morning, and I don't want to chatter about work before arriving and after leaving. How do I kindly reject my co-worker's offer? -- No HOV, Silver Spring, Maryland

DEAR NO HOV: What about a compromise? Suggest to your co-worker that you carpool two days a week and go separately on the other days. Set it up as a trial for a month so that you can see if you are comfortable with the ride, with each other’s cars, with your individual schedules and with the conversation. It is OK for you to be honest with her. Tell her how much you enjoy your solitude and your early-morning rituals, and you aren’t sure that you want to give that up. Offer to do this trial period with her where you both assess if you are comfortable with the journey to and from work. No matter how you feel at the end of the trial period, even if you love it, be sure to check in with each other. If you want to extend the agreement, do so with timelines included. In this way, each of you has an equal stake in this drive.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)