For the past several months, I’ve had so much trouble getting my daughter into her car seat. She arches her back, kicks her legs, and screams. This doesn’t happen every time, but always at the worst times…when I am late for an appointment, or just plain tired and wanting to go home. Today I found something that worked. It may not work tomorrow, but it worked today. I’ll first list all the failed ideas, then reveal today’s success. Feel free to skip to the end.
- “We’re going to see____________, we just need to get in the car.” (fill in the blank with something exciting, but be honest!)
- Talking her through it with praise: “I’m going to put you in the car now. You’re going to be a big girl and help me buckle you in. Then we’re going for a drive.”
- Letting her play outside for a few minutes before trying to get her in.
- Trying to put her in directly from the house (with no play time first.)
- Letting her walk up to the car herself.
- Carrying her to the car.
- Threats. “If you don’t get in the car nicely, I won’t be able to take you ________________ anymore.”
- Outsmarting your toddler/team work with your partner. With two people, one can help from the back seat while the other stands outside by the car seat. When by myself, getting her in through the side, sitting in the back seat, sometimes worked better than trying from the outside.
- Bribery. “I’ll give you Cheerios if you get in the car.” These last two work, but not quite the best parenting.
And here is what I came up with today:
I put a small stuffed animal in the car, not her favorite, just one she likes. The “bear” now lives in the car, and we only get to see him if we get into the car seat nicely. On several trips out today, my daughter walked over to the car saying “bear, bear,” and I had no problem getting her into the seat. She got to hold the bear while I strapped her in, and then willingly handed the bear back to me when I was ready to go. I then tucked the bear out of sight and we were on our way. I was surprised I didn’t get screams of “mine” when I asked for the bear back, maybe that’s something I have to look forward to another day. But for today, we had success, and I’ve learned to take these things one day at a time. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner. Seems so obvious now. I’ll try to think of using this type of reward system in the future.
Maybe you’ve had the same car seat struggles, or maybe you’re struggling with something else. I hope this post gives you hope that you’ll soon find a strategy that works…for at least one day anyway.