Published Friday, January 29, 2016 by

Roald Dahl stopped our Son refusing school transport


What should be a simple journey - 15 minutes - to / from school in a taxi had turned into a daily battle as our Son's behaviour steadily got worse each time he climbed into the taxi.

We knew enough to realise that this was a sign that our Son was anxious however we struggled to understand what was causing so much anxiety, and the longer we took to find out the cause the worse things became.

Understanding Anxiety

Young Minds describes anxiety as a normal feeling we all experience from time to time, triggering the 'fight or flight' reflex to keep us alert when facing a challenge from a stressful event. However when it occurs frequently or at the wrong time it can affect the thoughts and behaviours in a negative way.

Our Son is a fighter, and will act out when faced with anxiety.

It started out with a general mumble when it was time to get into the taxi, then there were reports of him shouting at the others in the taxi, which eventually escalated into our Son kicking the doors and seat as soon as he got into the taxi and reached the point where he was refusing to climb into the taxi when it came to collect him from school.

Trying to figure out the cause

At first we put it down to the fact that he was travelling with two other boys, and the boys were antagonising each other. However the behaviour continued to get steadily worse, even though he had been moved to a taxi of his own and there were no other children in the car.

Nothing we did seemed to make a difference - and we scratched our heads trying to work out why this journey was so stressful when our Son didn't have the same reaction when travelling with anyone else.

Was it the taxi driver(s), the smell of the pine air freshener or something else?

An unexpected breakthrough

After 3 taxi drivers and weeks of agonising about we would do if it continued to refuse to travel by taxi, the new driver suggested playing an audio book during the journey.

The next morning, our Son had some kid friendly headphones and a new ipod loaded with several Roald Dahl stories. I pressed play 5 minutes before the taxi was due to arrive and then watched as he listened to George's marvellous medicine as he wandered around the house and garden.


A little magic can take you a long way 
― Roald Dahl

As I guided him to the taxi I found myself holding my breath, my body tense just waiting for him to start lashing out as he had done every morning that week.

This time it was different .... lost in the world of Roald Dahl he casually walked to the taxi, climbed in and was actually laughing as I fastened the seat belt. What a difference - no shouting, no kicking, no refusal to climb in. The same happened that afternoon as he was collected from school. Each day that week we waited for things to deteriorate again as the novelty wore off, but it didn't.

Listening to the stories has an amazingly calming effect on our Son, and helps to reduce any anxiety he may be feeling. We may not always know the cause of the anxiety, but at least now we have a new tool which we can use to help manage it.

We now rely on a vast library of audio books to help us all in situations which we know are likely to cause increased levels of anxiety and they have made a huge difference in helping our Son, and us, deal with these situations.

It has been truly magical.