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two hours to get into the carseat(!)

(163 Posts)
SocialConstruct Wed 03-Jul-13 09:58:30

I got home from work at 8pm last night because it took me more than 2 hours to coax, argue, force my child into the car-seat. He is 2 and a half.
We went through persuasion, force, explanation and then finally breastfeeding him to sleep and attempting to gently put him in 3 times before he would stay.

I am no push-over but I am amazed that it took me so long to get him in as up to now he's been fine. Is this normal toddler behaviour and do I just need to resort to chocolate buttons now?

ZenGardener Sun 07-Jul-13 03:19:51

I haven't read the whole thread but I wondered about trying one of those DVD players on the back of the seat? I'd do that and a small snack but then again I'm one if those useless, insipid mothers too ;)

For what it's worth they do grow out of this phase.

MummyPig24 Sun 07-Jul-13 07:43:07

The thing is, when toddlers are angry, they are so unbelievably strong! I agree bribery or just force them in, knee in the stomach and in they go. As the carseat is really non negotiable it has to be like that.

CheungFun Sun 07-Jul-13 08:23:37

Honestly I don't know how you had the patience to try and persuade your son into a car seat for two hours!

If DS is mid tantrum and arching backwards and I need to get him strapped into the car seat or the buggy, I try to put him in once, if he arches backwards, I get him back out so he stops arching and thrust him into the seat as quickly as possible before he has a chance to arch backwards again, then I use one arm across his front to block him into the seat whilst I use my other arm to get his arms into the straps and buckled in. I find speed is of the essence - do it before they can wriggle more!

If DS also messes around with teeth brushing, nappy changing, nail clipping, eye drops etc., if I need to I will 'sit' on him pinning his arms between my legs, so that I have two free hands to do what is needed. Obviously I'm not putting my whole body weight on a toddler, but using my legs to keep him still instead of my arms.

I always try to make things fun and give DS lots of praise first, then I would try distraction, but if I need to use force then I will if it's necessary and a 'non-negotiable' thing as above.

Hillsnearby Mon 08-Jul-13 11:47:47

I agree with the tickling suggesting and catching him by surprise with some unexpected tickling/silly noises from mummy/singing&tickling game etc.

My 2 year old doesn't want to get in his car seat about 50% of the time, usually when he is tired or he doesn't want to leave where we are.

Tickling to distraction works every time, also when I need to put him in the pushchair and want to avoid the inevitable tantrum that comes with this, I tickle him and play some sort of singing/tickle game and this settles him in the pushchair so we can go.

pinkpanther79 Mon 08-Jul-13 13:03:21

Hi Social,
Sorry I don't have time to read it all but I have the same problem with my 18 month old kicking off in car seat after nursery. I have used force, but she gets one arm out when I try to get the other in, arches her back and so I know what you mean about how they can wriggle so much that you can be scared of hurting them to match their strength.

I haven't tried bribery (might tomorrow) but I have found a short (5mins) walk/mummy time helps them to reconnect to you. I have tears when I put her in the car seat now, but not the full on fight. They seem to know when you want to get home and get on and choose that moment to really play up don't they?

Good luck. Sounds like you are doing a fab job.

matana Mon 08-Jul-13 21:07:59

I had something like this about a month ago. Tried letting him get in himself but he began wandering around the back seats instead. Tried bribery, persuasion, threats before finally resorting to force.... and I hated myself for it. But all else had failed and this was the only realistic way. Anyway, it happened a week or so later, full on tantrum etc. After I had managed, somehow, to get him into his carseat I slammed the door in a strop and somehow managed to lock my keys, my purse, my phone and my ds in the car. It took 40 mins to rescue him, courtesy of the AA. Next time he began being awkward I simply said "Ds, do you remember what happened the last time you did this and I struggled with you?" He instantly sat his bum down! It also now works to do "one, two...right, three!" On 'three' he quickly sits down, or does whatever it is I'm trying to get him to do.

Shelby2010 Mon 08-Jul-13 22:24:17

We went through this stage, especially when tired. It's the 'I do MYSELF' thing. I now let her climb onto the back seat on the other side and shut the door. The game is that she has to climb across & into her seat before I can run round to strap her in. If it's not safe to do this then we 'agree' that I'll put her in the seat but she can climb out by herself when we get home.

sesamechoc Tue 09-Jul-13 00:25:15

Got the thing below from a website. Although it's american so a bit cheesy, it's not rubbish and "wouldn't work in the real world" as we always do this with our nearly 3yo ds2. When he doesn't want to go into his car seat, we ask why not and he invariably says because I want to play with the buttons. So we say ok, tell me when you're ready but we do have to go soon as need to cook dinner etc. He plays with buttons and then after a while he says ok, will go into carseat now. Unbelievably the longest we've ever had to wait is 7 minutes. The 1st time we did it when my DP was struggling to strap him in we couldn't believe it...

We walk to most things where time is an issue like school etc but if we're just going out somewhere, and there is no time urgency, we do this. Whenever I feel extremely frustrated with my dc, I try to think how I would treat a friend I was out with who didn't want to leave at the same time as me....

An “Unconditional Surrender”

I remember a particularly stress-filled evening when my first child, Olivia, was two years old and she refused to get in her carseat. We were on our way home after an all-day excursion and had just stopped at a gas station. My wife and I were exhausted and we just didn’t have the energy for a struggle.

But old habits die hard, and I struggled anyway, eventually trying to force her into the carseat. And she — bless her fiery heart — would have none of it! She fought with every fiber of her being to uphold her dignity, until I finally gave up. I surrendered. But I was not defeated; I simply realized that I could have a much better time doing anything other than fighting my beloved child.

So I relaxed and told her she didn’t have to get in the carseat. I decided that I was willing to wait patiently in that parking lot until she was ready to buckle up and go, voluntarily. I told myself, “I don’t need conditions to change in order to feel peace now,” and I looked for something — anything — more pleasant to focus on.

My solution was to rest my chin on the steering wheel and indulge in the simple pleasure of people-watching — there were plenty of interesting people coming and going about the gas station. (This isn’t rocket science! Just reach for any thought that brings relief or feels better when you think it.)

Meanwhile, my daughter, feeling the shift from resistance to freedom and lightness, dawdled and tinkered with the various knobs and buttons in the car for about three minutes. Then she climbed into her carseat and let me buckle her in without protest.

I believe this rapid return to peace was, in part, due to the fact that I was willing to wait “forever” — meaning, I was totally focused in the present. In other words, my unconditionality gave her the space and time she needed to find her own way. And with that sense of freedom, we both found a way that was in accord with our shared desire for peace, freedom, and respect.

My story illustrates the paradox in which unconditionality leads to positive changes in conditions, but it doesn’t work if your intent is merely to change the conditions! You’ve got to make a commitment to unconditionality for its own sake — because you want the power to enjoy life under any conditions.

Our children give us ample opportunities to practice this, and sometimes they persist with undesired behaviors until we get it. It’s as if they’re saying, “Mom, Dad... I’d really like to go along with you, but I’m going to wait until you’ve let go of the idea that I have to change for you to feel okay... I don’t want to deprive you of the wonderful feeling of knowing where your well-being really comes from.”

Unconditionality empowers you to create what you want from the inside out, while conditionality requires change from the outside in. When you truly shift inside, you can taste the deliciousness of well-being instantly, and any subsequent outer change is just icing on the cake.

MiaowTheCat Tue 09-Jul-13 08:54:37

OK - how the fuck do you all get your knees up to carseat level? Seriously - my car isn't THAT high off the ground but I struggle getting my legs up to even sit in the front seat - let alone even contemplate getting a knee up to the level the kids are in carseats at! Are you like gymnasts or something?!

I find having my car keys hanging out of my mouth (like normal from the lack of hands) is sufficient distraction for DD1 to be desperately trying to grab and steal them for me to be able to get her locked in and loaded up.

LingDiLong Tue 09-Jul-13 14:18:45

Sesame, it's a very good tactic to use, but I think that whole American article wittering on about 'conditionality' could be summoned up with 'toddlers are contrary'. If they think you want them to do something they won't, the minute you feign nonchalance they'll go ahead and do what you wanted them to do!

SocialConstruct Tue 09-Jul-13 15:08:51

Thanks for the continuing suggestions. Happy to report that we've not had a repeat and no need for knees, slaps or tickling.

Reading through Sesame's post and I realise that I have always done this kind of thing with DS, mostly because I have always breastfed him on pick up so we have had some time every evening sitting in the car doing a bit of twiddling and catching up. He gets his fill of noodling about in the car most nights and I am pretty relaxed about that. Something just went wrong on that particular day I think.

LapinDeBois Thu 11-Jul-13 21:46:48

Haven't read whole thread so may be repeating. I've recently read 'Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting' and, while I don't accept everything the book says, it did help me solve a similar car seat issue. The theory for this type of issue is 'descriptive praise' - which in practice means that you praise your child for every tiny thing they do in the right direction (or even the things they don't quite get wrong). So, with DS2 (who took an age to get in his seat, and the whole thing would end with the knee in the chest and the tantrums and tears) I started with things like 'Oh, your foot's near the door already, well done!', and then 'Oh, you've stopped crying about getting in the car because you've paused to draw breath', or 'Well done, one of your legs is already inside the car'. When he EVENTUALLY got into the seat I'd say 'Well done, you're already in!', or 'Wow, you got in without me asking you too many times'. It sounds really sappy, and for a while I thought I was just completely pandering to him (and I'm seriously not a pandering type of mum). But hey presto, after a couple of weeks of this, I now open the car door and he climbs straight in (ok, he occasionally needs a small prompt, but not normally). And he'll often say something like, 'Look mummy, I got in all by myself without you asking'. It was seriously magic.

cory Sat 13-Jul-13 18:40:55

I found if you choose exactly the same moment it doesn't take that much force to push their bottom back- you shouldn't need a knee. Basically, when they are screaming they run out of breath, and for a split second while they are catching their breath they have to relax their stomach muscles. Catch that moment and just push them in.

I wonder how that Unconditional Surrender quoted by sesamechoc would have coped if she had an older sibling sobbing desperately by her side in that car part because she knew her nativity play was about to start. Or an elderly grandparent who would be late for her doctor's appointment. Or was in the house of her child's playdate with the other family desperate to get rid of her because they had to leave for somewhere important. I had a friend like this: it took her nearly an hour to get out of our house after a playdate and she seemed totally unphased by this. I otoh waited a long time before I invited them again... Because I didn't feel the only thing that mattered was that the other parent should be allowed to savour the deliciousness of wellbeing: I thought my wellbeing and my dd's wellbeing mattered just as much.

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