How to help your child get into their car seat when they pull all of their wiggly tricks and tantrums when it’s time to go.
Whether you have a newly 1 year old or a 3 year old, toddler car seat tantrums are the real deal.
Man, these young children will do anything they can with their bodies to wiggle their way out of a car seat, especially when you’re late for an appointment or something important.
With 3 kids in my life, I’ve gone through all the child’s tantrums that you can think of and I have a few tricks up my sleeve for the best way to mange car seat tantrums so you can at least go to the grocery store without toddler tantrums (at least in the car seat).
The important thing is to take your child’s feelings into account when going for a car ride, long or short. You’ll receive more positive behavior with your child if you communicate with them in a effective way before you even get into the car seat. Even if your toddler is 12 months old, they can still understand a lot of what you’re saying.
Remember that toddlers have short attention spans and that tantrums are a normal part of child development, meaning little things can affect your child’s behavior and cause a meltdown in the car seat.
Handling A Car Seat Tantrum
Dealing with a child who despises their car seat isn’t something you can put off or ignore—it’s a safety problem, after all. You won’t be able to leave or get to your destination unless your child cooperates.
This is a naturally irritating problem and your kiddo’s emotional outbursts don’t help in keeping your cool, but keeping your cool and using the distraction method in this difficult situation are the most important things you can do when big feelings strike.
Empathy is one of the most effective strategies to defuse a car seat tantrum.
It’s understandably one of the most difficult things to accomplish in the heat of the moment. You have to get somewhere by a specific time, or you’ll be late. You’re sick of facing strong emotions from your little one, especially when you think you’ve tried everything.
However, it is precisely at these times that your child requires your sensitivity and love. She doesn’t want to be bossed around; she wants to be noticed and heard. To know that you understand her anguish and would feel the same if you were in her place.
Communicate with your child and let them know that you understand their resistance to the car seat. Caring about your child’s emotions is one of the first steps of gentle parenting, and it actually leads to fewer tantrums overall!
You child might not have the language skills to interact with you when you try the empathy route, so this option isn’t the best for a 12 month old, but is a good option to try next time with a 3 year old.
Distract With An Object
Distracting your child with a stuffed animal or healthy snacks can help your child ease into their car seat without too much protesting. I know that there are so many triggers for a child’s temper tantrums, but if you know your child well, you should be able to find a distraction that works for your family.
However, anything you give him can always fall and be difficult to grasp throughout the journey, so make it clear that he must hold on to it tightly. If it falls it could trigger your toddler’s tantrum, he’ll have to wait until you arrive at your destination to retrieve it.
Your child may feel powerless because he is forced to follow the rules of the adult world, which he may not understand or want to follow all of the time.
However, giving him options allows him to express himself and makes him feel like a member of your team and gives him a sense of control. When he made the decision, he’ll be more likely to follow instructions and you can avoid your toddler temper tantrums altogether.
Regardless of whatever option he chooses, make sure you’re comfortable with the options you provide. “Would you like to get in the car seat or stay here in the parking lot?” is not a good question to ask. Because he might decide to stay put when you don’t want him to.
Sample scripts to use:
“We need to get in the car. Do you want me to carry you in or do you want to do it yourself?” or “We need to remain seated.”
“Would you prefer to hug your teddy or eat these crackers?”
Either choice he makes is beneficial to you and keeps your child in a safe place.
Does The Car Seat Need Adjusting?
Your child’s seat might be uncomfortable and that is the reason for your child’s tantrums in the car seat.
I don’t know about you, but I find it easy to lose sight of how rapidly our children grow. I don’t always notice when kids need new shoes until they complain about their toes. The car seat is the same way, especially since we don’t adjust the straps too often.
It’s possible that your child has outgrown the car seat’s existing modifications, if not the car seat itself.
It’s a good idea to check his posture to see if the straps need to be adjusted. Are they irritating and rubbing his neck or thighs because they’re too low below his shoulders? If he’s now too big or tall for his current car seat, you might want to consider getting a new one.
Finally, double-check that you have him securely fastened. The straps may not be snug enough if he can slide the clip up and down.
When your child is throwing a temper tantrum in the car seat, you need to stay calm.
Take a step back and consider what’s going on. Yes, your child is having a fit, you’re running late, and you’re exhausted from a hard day at work. You simply aren’t in the mood for your child’s tantrums.
But, above all, it’s just a temper tantrum. Of course, it’s the most frustrating aspect of your day at the time, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s just a few minutes later than usual. There are a lot of things that are worse so you can put those negative emotions aside.
Why do you need to be aware of how “little” this issue is? Because it’s crucial to show him that you’ve got this, no matter how crazy or hectic you are.
He shouldn’t see you disturbed by his actions, no matter how difficult it is.
Instead, demonstrate that you can handle this temper tantrum and that nothing he throws at you can rattle your nerves (even if it does!).
Make It A Game
You can make the transition into the car seat a fun time by having a race with your child or skipping to the car from the day care center.
Whatever method you choose to get them into their car seat, you must maintain your composure. There is no other alternative except to buckle up properly, and you must emphasise this. If you hesitate, your child may get perplexed or concerned about the situation.
How To Make Car Rides More Exciting For Toddlers
You can make car rides more exciting for your older toddler by playing music and singing while you drive. It doesn’t have to be toddler music, most babies do enjoy the radio music just fine as well.
You can allow your older toddler to enjoy a healthy snack that is non-chokable while you drive. Alternatively you can offer water if you are concerned about choking.
You can also talk to your rear facing toddler about things that he can see out of his window to make the car ride more interesting.
Try using a baby mirror with your rear facing toddler so you can see what they’re up to!
Another thing I liked to do with my one baby who used a pacifier is to bring a pacifier with us, attached to a clip that was attached to the car seat so she could find it after she finished crying while I was driving.
Car Seat Tantrums Bottom Line
Empathy for our children’s problems, even if they appear minor to us, is significantly more effective. We have to appear that we’ve got things under control, no matter how difficult it is on the inside. We may give them something to grip, give them options, and even change the car seat for them.
You won’t have to deal with another car seat tantrum with the correct communication, empathy, and forethought.