Handling a hyperactive toddler on the train

We moved to a new suburb where there is no daycare centre within ~3km from our house. There are 2 but have no vacancies for next few months.

I can drive but my partner can't. So if I choose to drive him to the nearest daycare centre, its not feasible for me to pick up and drop off daily due to work timings.

We have a 3yo hyperactive toddler who goes to his current daycare 5 days a week and we need to send him there until we find an alternative in the new suburb. So we take him with us on the train, my partner gets off after 30mins and drops him to the daycare.

Now the challenge for us is to handle him for 30 mins on the train. He gets cranky, wants to play in every possible section of the train and hardly sits quiet for 5 mins.

How can we keep him occupied and quiet? Ita sometimes embarrassing when everyone on the train gives you hard looks. Any suggestions and experiences? I haven't considered the option of letting him e-play on an ipad yet.


  • +14

    It sounds bad but the best option is an iPad or similar. Load up whatever the latest kids show is and that will keep them occupied for a while plus maybe some drawing or colouring apps.

    I salute you for taking the initiative to keep them occupied and don't feel bad about it. You are doing your best and most people on the train with kids will understand

  • Favourite book and a snack?
    Otherwise the kids mode on Samsung tablets is great

  • +5

    I have 2 year old who is pretty active too. First don't be embarassed about having to talk to your kid out loud or make a little noise on the train (it's a train not a library your perfectly entitled to talk etc) try read to them, engage with them by playing eye-spy etc , colouring in books.

    • +1

      Thank you! I am not at all embarrassed by my kid, it's the look in the eyes of people as if they were never a kid. It's funny. my kid loves trains until he realized I am taking him every day. :D
      Time to load up the bag.

  • +5

    Introduce him to the back of your hand

    • -3

      Right? All this "oh distract him so he's quiet" - no, if the kid's old enough to be distracted by an iPad, the kid's old enough to understand discipline. Obedience doesn't happen naturally. If the kid's like this now OP, how are you going to keep them out of trouble when they grow up?

      • Not sure that a lot of 3 year olds (especially if hyper) can be reasoned with or if (assumedly physical) discipline is entirely the answer though HD'

        … One might wonder if you've had kids? If so what has worked for you when they are having a 'tanty'… what level of discipline would you exact… exactly?

        (no offence, just curious - for all we know you are an expert in such things?) Certainly a 'learning experience' for children can be lost when they are acting up thus creating better chances for them as you say 'when they grow up'. We've all seen parents that seem to do as much as 'nothing' in such cases but the ones who overdo it are perhaps even more worrying yes/no? It's a tough one with over-active/hyper kids either way we look at it.
        I still remember a time when I saw a parent quite harshly yank a small child up into a bus by their arm. Little shoulders can't take that kind of abuse :o(

        • Apparently elbow injuries are more common than shoulder injuries from "yanking" (or swinging/twirling) on their arms. Makes sense I suppose.

        • There's a difference between discipline and 'yanking' on a kid's arms. One is controlled, the other is loss of control.

          But then we've probably gotten to the stage when a lot of parents these days may not have had any actual discipline from their own parents that they don't know the difference.

    • This doesn't work all the time and for all the kids.
      I stopped doing it when I noticed he started copying me. Whenever he realises his mistake, he grabs his other hand and hits himself on the cheek and say "say sorry, say sorry" and then walks away. I feel funny and helpless at the same time :D

  • -1

    Who cares about other people. So many offensive things on the train. Fat people, smelly people, ungroomed individuals, people talking, school kids, junkies … list goes on… Occupy your kid to the best of your ability and leave it at that, other than that let your kid be a kid.

    • +1

      So many offensive things on the train.

      I mean, true - precisely because of attitudes like yours.

      • +3

        When did you last travel on public transport? Smelly people who stink up a whole carriage don't bother you? Loud groups carrying away doesn't bother you? Carriage being flooded with school kids and their emormous backpacks doesn't make you kinda wish you weren't there? And fat people squeezing and wedging themselves next to you on a packed train/bus is just dandy to you?

        Teach me your ways towards serenity please..

    • +1

      I love the trains in Tokyo.

      It is crammed but everyone is mindful of personal space. Minimal chatter and many people just read a book.

      It take discipline though.

      • +1

        Many people just sleep, instantly, and wake up miraculously at their station.

  • +1

    Wow really? No ipad for a 3 year old? So many toddlers have mastered those things by 3-4 years old. It isn't like you are letting him use it for hours at a time. You can get interactive stories and dollhouse style games for phones/tablets that kids love and it lets them use their imagination/interaction skills. Just DON'T let them on YouTube. That is a slippery slope that is hard to get kids off (seriously it is crack for toddlers/pre-schoolers).

    • No ipad for a 3 year old?
      Actually, he already uses it quite frequently at home :) So I thought I will try to avoid it on the train but doesn't look like that is going to happen.

  • +3

    Eye spy outside the train window. Keeps my kinship between 3-4yrs amused when their uncle (me) takes them for an outing. music also calms these little humans, and food keeps them quiet.

    Dont feel embarrassed, these are not my little shits but a reasonable person is normally quite accepting of noisy children, after all we were all children once upon a time.

  • +3

    please if you are going to let them watch youtube on an tablet/phone please get them headphones.

  • +2

    My daughter and I regularly take the bus. It's 40-45 minutes each way. We take books, play games and talk. She's almost three. It's fun.

    Kids who play up are kids who are bored and want attention.

    • +2

      From what I have noticed, a girl child is much more controllable than boys, they listen when you talk, look into your eyes. It just feels amazing. I think it's natural in them and for this reason, I always appreciate them, always have been. Thanks for the tip.

  • +2

    Don't hand him a bottle that he can throw! haha

    Honestly speaking, most people on the train will understand that a kid is a kid. Instead of getting angry, I think most people will feel sympathetic to the fact that you are at least making an effort to control your child (whether your efforts are in vain or not doesn't really matter).

    People generally only get annoyed/angry when the parent(s) don't care and just let their child run amok bothering everyone.

    Although, note that there's often one angry person that hates the world who will get super annoyed regardless of what you do. Ignore them…

    • Don't hand him a bottle that he can throw! haha

      Not a bottle but it happened with my wristwatch today and that's when I had the thought of asking you guys. :D

      note that there's often one angry person

      I am so with you.

  • +1

    Muzzle and leash? lulz jk

    What keeps your child engaged? Conversation? Technology? Reading? Toys to fidget with? Games?

    • Outdoor activities, dancing, and singing. :D
      Now you know :/

      • +1

        Hey those are awesome qualities. Treasure them.
        It's society and the blanket rules and expectations of children that is messed up.

        I'm of no help but hope you could think of ways to incorporate games and activities that don't bother other passengers too much. But try not to get too anxious about their behaviour. Maybe ask simple questions like what they would like to do etc while on public transport? Brainstorm some simple things together?

        • +1

          I play "finger magic" with him. Make fingers disappear one by one and then bring them back. He loves it but the game doesn't last long. Thanks for the suggestions.

  • Overear noise cancelling headphones and music.

    • +3

      I can't afford that to give it to everyone in the carriage. Every day different people on the train makes it even more impractical :D

  • I had the same thing.

    I used the threat of corporal punishment then corporal punishment itself when she doubled down on bad behaviour.

    After 2 separate incidents she sat down calmly..

    • then corporal punishment itself

      Some idiot will cry "child abuse" and threaten to report you… (in which you should tell them to get [email protected]&ked! haha).

  • +2

    There are a lot of good suggestions. I guess each toddler is different and are entertain differently. When mine is unsettle i will sing every single rythms i can remember and my toddler will follow me. Or if your toddler like talking : asking questions about what happened in the morning and playing "i spied with my little eyes…" can keep them busy. And at last, phone or tablet when nothing else is working.
    I know exactely the feeling about having a "noisy" kid. But there s nothing you can really do and just keep telling yourself that you re doing a great job and did the best you can. Some adults behaviour are worst so there s nothing to feel ashamed off and good on both of you for seeking advice! Good luck!

    • I am taking a note of all these suggestions. Thank you!

  • +3

    Toddlers are noisy and messy and dirty. As long as you are not in the quiet carriage and they are not physically in other people's space or having a mega meltdown/tantrum the whole way (which even if they were, what can you do?), you're fine. Most people have headphones on these days anyway.

    If people give you dirty looks or don't like it, tough. Ignore it. They'll get over it or they can move to another carriage if it bothers them that much. It's public transport, not a stretch limo.

    Personally we bring our 3 year old books, food, toys, play eye spy and last resort is giving her one of our phones.

  • +1

    That is just how they are at that age. Definitely ipad. Maybe something special ( a 30 min show) just for the train journey. Make the best of it and have fun.

    Really not easy. If he wants to walk around, teach him to walk around and say hello to people happily. I'm sure you will get lots of smiles and greetings back.

    Maybe encourage your partner to learn to drive. It's just going to get more and more complicated if both parents aren't driving as the child gets older.

  • +2

    A timer can be useful when educating children. An egg timer is good as it is visual. Eg have 3 activities (I spy, story, iPad, rest and relax). Use fav. last. Child is in charge of watching timer. Lots of variety possible.
    Practice at home before trying in an environment with distractions (eg train).
    If used with consistency and clarity it can help with parenting as discipline becomes external i.e. the timer is the boss.

    • Interesting!

    • ?

      In the mix of activities - Quiet time. explain, set the timer for just a few seconds, see if he can whisper and sit for that much time - reward (praise, food (not too often), small gift like sticker, game, play with toy, cuddle). slowly increase the length of Quiet Time, keeping it achievable.

      ? possible ?

  • -1


  • +1

    I never understand how people have children and then get other people to raise them during the day. 5 days a week. And don’t say money. Can’t afford em, don’t have them.

    • I couldn't agree more. Ultimately, these kids spend more time with their "educators" than their parents. It's a joke.

      I have taken a two year break to look after mine whilst my wife works. Best time of my life.

      • +2

        I hate it when people judge others without knowing the complete story. FYI, It's my partner first job. She stayed home for 3 years to look after the kid. We are not comfortable with home schooling and we feel its time for him to go to preschool. Afterall, a couple of years more and the kid will start attending school and start looking after himself.

        I have taken a two year break to look after mine whilst my wife works

        So did your wife stay home and look after the kid after your break?

    • I quote bobbified

      .. note that there's often one angry person that hates the world who will get super annoyed regardless of what you do. Ignore them…

  • +1

    is anyone in the family crafty?

    i had a 'quiet book'


    • Not very Ozbargainy, my wife bought two for $60 each at the markets!

      • sure it is - there's always bargains to be found on craft supplies.

        how many pages? that's a good price, they take a lot of work.

        • +1

          9 pages? Yeah, I can only imagine.

    • +1

      is anyone in the family crafty?

      Me! Already doing that.

      • +1

        oh good, well that will definitely help on the train.

        Also I am 33 years old and I still have the one my Mum made me when I was a toddler.

        • Yeah, he loves it. See this one

          …still have the one my Mum made me when I was a toddler.

          That's nice.

  • baby shark do doo dooo

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