Your precious angel has wandered right into their “terrible twos” and “threenager” years without so much as a warning, and boy, do they have opinions! Toddlerhood is a test of boundaries – Why can’t I run around the pool? – and asserting their wish for autonomy – No, Mommy, I can dress myself! Unfortunately, this can extend into some of the more necessary aspects of your day-to-day life – namely, the car seat. Nobody likes to sit still and be confined by anything, but your LO needs to be properly buckled into their car seat no matter how much they hate it. Facing a meltdown every time you attempt a grocery store run is draining, but thankfully, it is avoidable. Here are six tips to help your kiddo overcome car seat tantrums (and maybe even end them for good).

  1. Stay calm, cool, and collected. With a rioting child on your hands, it's easy to give in to the frustration. Staying calm and consistent in your directions tells your LO you mean business and won’t give them the satisfaction of ruffling your feathers.
  2. Give them a choice. Little kids love to feel like they’re calling the shots, so give them a choice. No, not a choice of getting into their seat or leaving them behind. Instead – Do you want to climb up on your own or do you want me to pick you up? Giving them some autonomy can lessen the negative feelings about having to sit in the seat.
  3. Validate and praise. When your tot starts to get frustrated, validate their emotions while staying consistent and firm. I know this can be frustrating, but you need to buckle up before we can go anywhere. On the other hand, be sure to praise and reward your kid when they follow your directions.
  4. Play games or sing songs. You know what they say – distraction is key. Play your kiddo’s favorite car games or put on their favorite sing-along. You can even keep a box of car-seat-only soft toys that they can hold on-the-go.
  5. Practice getting in the seat. Bring the car seat into the house and let them explore it. Take some time to go through the steps with your child and get them used to buckling up. Go on short trips when your kid is in a good mood to get them used to riding while strapped in safely.
  6. Check the seat. If you’re still struggling when it’s time to get in the car, maybe the problem is external. Assess your LO’s car seat and its fit. Is the seat too small? Is the harness too high. Is the buckle digging into their legs? Nobody wants to be forced into a painful seat – make sure the car seat is comfortable and see if that puts a stop to the car seat struggle.
When all else fails, get a car seat so comfortable that car seat tantrums are a thing of the past.