The Car Seat Wars

car-seat-warsUntil recently, I believed that my daughter was going to be that amazing child who didn’t throw tantrums. When it finally happened, I was totally unprepared for her sudden show of force. The first time she had her melt down, I immediately gave in. Because she had never done it before, I figured the car seat must have been too hot or something must have pinched her. It wasn’t until I tried to strap her in the second time that I realized what was going on. This was going to be war.

It wasn’t until I tried to strap her in the second time that I realized what was going on. This was going to be war.

I spent ten minutes in the grocery store parking lot trying to force her into her seat while at the same time trying to remain calm. Those ten minutes felt like ten hours. I just kept telling her that I was sorry the car seat made her sad but that it kept her safe. My words of wisdom were falling on the uncompromising ears of a toddler. By this point, she was already hysterical and had a death grip on the car door. I resorted to bribery. Cookies, cake, balloons.. nothing worked.

After fighting with her for another 15 minutes, she slouched down in her seat and began sucking her thumb. She was exhausted and too tired to keep up the fight. I strapped her in and climbed into the front seat. I was exhausted too. I knew that before I faced another car seat battle, I needing to be prepared. I did some research and brain storming and came up with a few strategies to make the car seat more appealing.

MORE: Toddler Discipline: Yes, It's Magic! }

Here is what we tried. Some worked and others were a bust. If you find your toddler needing a car seat intervention, try some of these out – one is sure to do the trick.

Strap their favorite doll in the seat.

The theory here is that they will see how awesome it is to sit in a seat through modeling with their favorite doll. This did not work for us. My daughter was more like, “Hey, if Mickey Mouse likes the car seat, he can have it!” This one was a total bust.

Bribe them with something.

Be warned! This will only work if you bribe them before they start with the tantrum. Otherwise, they will just throw the cookie in your face. Even though this strategy is the most effective for my daughter, it is my least favorite. I just don’t like the idea of giving her junk food (or a tv show on my phone) every time I want to go somewhere. I admit, though, I will use this one if I am in a hurry or have had a really bad day.

{ MORE: 5 Things I Wish I'd Done Better Before They Became Toddlers }

Reason with them.

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Not even sure why I tried this one. You can’t reason with toddlers – they are just not reasonable! Although, if you have older kids, you might want to give this one a go.

Wait it out or “start over”.

This one is dangerous and can backfire. Letting my daughter play in the front of the car for a while will sometimes help the situation, other times it makes it much worse. I usually don’t try this one until all else has failed. If this also fails, I “start over”. I go back in the store we were in and walk around for a few minutes before trying the car seat again.

What strategies would you add to this list to help with getting through the car seat battles that come up with feisty toddlers? 

What do you think?

The Car Seat Wars

Samantha Chase is math major turned elementary school teacher turned stay at home mom extraordinaire. She spent three years studying mathematics at the University of Southern Florida before deciding it was time to make a change. She switched her major to Elementary Education and became a teacher. After graduation, Samantha spent 6 years (and a lot of sleepless nights) working in a high poverty school in the heart of St.Petersburg, Florida. She taught the first, fourth and fifth grades and lear ... More

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