DAVID GREENE, HOST:
This summer, kids who are going through airport security are being treated just a little bit more like kids. NPR's Tasnim Shamma tells us about the Transportation Security Administration's new policies and the challenges that remain for families.
TASNIM SHAMMA, BYLINE: Flying with young children means the difficulties begin long before you board an airplane. In fact, even before you leave the house.
JOHN KIMBALL: Mommy.
SHAMMA: That's John Kimball. He's 2. And his sister's name is Lane.
LANE KIMBALL: And I'm 5.
SHAMMA: It's seven o'clock in the morning in the Kimball's Washington, D.C. home. Parents, Peter and Leslie are running up and down the stairs. Dad changes diapers. Mom serves breakfast.
LESLIE KIMBALL: Airplane.
SHAMMA: In the car, they review mom's rules for the airplane. Number one:
KIMBALL: Don't kick the seat in front of you.
SHAMMA: They made their flight and mom says they enjoyed the airplane ride. But for many families, flying is anything but fun.
CHRISTOPHER ELLIOTT: It is stressful when you have three kids, you've got carry-ons, and you're trying to comply with all the rules, you're being yelled at by a TSA agent - that all raises your blood pressure.
SHAMMA: That's Christopher Elliott, a father and a consumer advocate. He writes about the TSA and understands why kids have to go through security checkpoints - but still...
ELLIOTT: When I see my daughter go through the checkpoint, I'm always thinking, well, what if she's singled out for a more thorough check and how am I going to react? And as a parent, that kind of freaks me out.
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SHAMMA: TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein says last fall the agency began an effort to reduce - but not eliminate - the number of pat-downs of kids. If they set off an alarm, kids can now go through the metal detectors more than once. And if they continue to set off alarms - instead of getting a pat-down, they'll be swabbed, usually on their hands. The swab then goes into a machine to check for explosive residue.
LISA FARBSTEIN: One of the things that is going to be met with much happiness - from the parents anyway - is that passengers who are 12 and under no longer need to take off their shoes.
SHAMMA: Amy Selco is a mother of two boys in Silver Spring, Maryland. And she's happy about the new rule. Noah is her oldest child.
AMY SELCO: Noah, the first time he had to take off his shoes, he flipped out.
SHAMMA: Amy Selco remembers one difficult flight.
SELCO: We were delayed and delayed and delayed. He was screaming and screaming and we're sweating, and...
SHAMMA: Their son wouldn't go to sleep.
SELCO: Finally, Noah was quiet and we looked over to see what he was doing and he was eating Cheerios. And my husband and I looked at each other and thought did you bring Cheerios? I didn't bring Cheerios. And it turned out that Noah had found Cheerios on the floor of the Newark Airport. We don't know whose Cheerios they were but they made us very happy that he was occupied.
SHAMMA: Amy Selco has one word of advice for other parents flying with kids this summer: patience, lots of patience. For NPR News, I'm Tasnim Shamma.
GREENE: And you can find more advice for navigating airport security with children at our website, npr.org. This is NPR News.