Forcing my child into his carseat…

Emmett is two and he does not want to get into his carseat. I have places to go and I feel inclined to just force him in. I am strong enough and I can do it. It would be more convenient and it could be easily justified that I am doing it for his safety. But I will not. I imagine that being strapped in a carseat against your will is comparable to being someone’s hostage. It must be terrible and I don’t want to take advantage of his vulnerability. I want him to have positive associations with his carseat and with trips, and it is possible.
How can this be done?
It takes patience, slowing down and many soothing explainations.
Today we sat in the back and I talked about laws and safety and fines. He responded in his toddler way with um’s and words of daddy. We then nursed while he started to drift off and I asked if I could put him in his seat to continue nursing and he said yes, or rather him “um” which means yes. All went well.
Sometimes I just wait while he bounces back and forth in the van among the other children. It’s never taken longer than ten minutes for him to willingly get in his seat. That’s not bad, and now that I know that, I can plan extra time for it if needed.
If he is starting to get cranky in his seat, I pull over and feel grateful that he is telling me that he has had enough. We find a park or a nice area to relax. Sometimes we just pull
over on the side of the highway so we can cuddle and nurse. I do this to give him a break and give him that positive experience with car trips. When I think about it, there’s no reason why I can’t take a few moments to stop and reconnect with him so he can feel better about traveling. Life is much more pleasant this way!
My daughter Nova, who is three, was screaming in the van the other day and I didn’t listen to her. I thought “She will just go to sleep, she is tired.”. Well, of I would have stopped, I would have discovered that the hot air was blowing
In the back! It was 32 degrees outside and I didn’t realize until later when I looked back at her purple little face, sweating. I felt horrible and learned a powerful lesson that I thought I already knew: they don’t cry for no reason. I apologize to her and promised to be a better listener.
I think the destination is important too. If we always have fun where we are going, then they want to get in the van. Even grocery shopping and trips to home depot can be a blast and valuable learning experiences. I use to feel rushed an hurried to get what we need and not forget anything! But now I know that we always have enough and we can (and do) live with whatever I forget.
I’m also careful not to leave them in the van too long or too many times while I run into a store or wherever. I have to gauge how they are feeling. Sometimes it is never ok to leave them and so I bring all four in for one little thing and it takes four times as long and I love it. They always find fun and adventure. It humbles me to the core.
I would like to invite you to quiet your mind from all that you think you must get done. You don’t have to believe those thoughts. I think you’ll find that if you seriously slow down and consider the child’s needs, that you will have an abundance of time and cooperation. Overall, it will be an increased quality of life.


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