To get your toddler into their car seat, firstly, ask lots of questions in advance about what they need to do.
It’s useful to explain to your child that everyone needs to be strapped in to make it safe to drive. Then about five times a day, ask your child lots of questions such as:

  • What’s the rule about your car seat?
  • And what does that mean?
  • Who needs to buckle the strap?
  • What will happen if someone isn’t strapped in – yes, the car won’t be safe to drive.
  • So what do you need to do?
  • And what does getting in the seat nicely mean?
  • Why is it important?
  • And how will you show me you can get into your car seat nicely?

If your toddler isn’t speaking yet, you give them the answer as well.
If they can answer, be positive and friendly about every reply.
If your child answers with something that isn’t ok, laugh gently and say ‘I think you wish that was right, but what do you really need to do?’
Asking questions will help your toddler form a picture in their head of what he or she will need to do, and will make it much more likely they get into their car seat next time.

Secondly, praise them when they do get into their car seat well.
Every time they do it nicely say-‘you got into your car seat really nicely. You didn’t make a fuss. You just got in your seat and waited for me to strap you in. That was really helpful.’
If your child realises they get lots of attention for doing the right thing, they’ll be much more likely to do it again.

And finally, empathise with them when they just don’t want to.
You know, being a toddler is tough. There’s always someone bigger than you telling you what you can and can’t do. And frankly – who wants to be restrained when they’re sitting down? So just let your toddler know you ‘get it’ when they don’t want to sit in their seat.
‘I can see you really don’t want to get in your car seat. You wish you didn’t have to be strapped in.
You’d much rather be playing and having fun.’
Then just wait. Just stand there and don’t give them all the reasons why they have to.
Somehow when toddlers feel you understand them, it makes them more willing to comply.
And as soon as they do, praise them for sitting down and letting you buckle them in.

So three tips to get your reluctant toddler into their car seat:

  1. Ask lots of questions in advance about what they need to do,
  2. Praise them when they do get into their car seat well,
  3. And empathise with them when they just don’t want to.

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If you need more than three tips on this – or you’d like to discover the secrets you need to have happy well-behaved, children – please contact me by clicking here. You can arrange a free 20-minute (no obligation) chat to find out if working with me personally (by phone, Skype or face-to-face) would help you and your family. Contact Elizabeth

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Elizabeth O’Shea is a parenting specialist child behaviour expert and one of the leading parenting experts in the UK.

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