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What to do when your 1-year-old won’t get in the car seat

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Quote from Positive Discipline. Jane Nelson & Lynn Lott

Quote from Positive Discipline. Jane Nelson & Lynn Lott

This is a tiny example of using the Positive Discipline tool of “Connect before you correct”.  I am NOT saying this will always work, but I had a tiny success moment the other day and thought I would share it, in case it could help another parent.

We were leaving Music Together class (where my 1-year-old had just had a ton of fun), and he was not interested in going home.  We got to the car and I couldn’t quite open the car door to get him into his seat because the car next to us was about to pull out.  So, I set him down in the grass in front of our car and let him walk around in the median a bit (holding my hand).  *This may have not helped our situation because he loves to be outside walking around.

Anyway, once the car was gone, I opened the car door and tried to sit him car seat trouble with toddlerin the car seat but was greated with a very hefty hip thrust forward, arching his back and screaming.  Yeah.  Loud and clear little buddy.  You do not want to get in the car. Got it.

I was guessing he was sad to leave class and all the other kids, so instead of having a power struggle to try to shove him in the seat, I pulled him out of the seat and onto my hip and talked him through it a bit. *Lots of connecting to what he was likely feeling.    “CM, I know you are sad that we are leaving.  It was so much fun in class today, wasn’t it.  We got to play with fun instruments and friends.  It’s hard to say goodbye.”

Then….the correction.

“Let’s look around though.  See! All the other kids are getting in their cars to go home.  The class is all done (a phrase he knows from when eating is done).  So, we are going to get in our car too, to go home.”

I was annoyed, but did my best to talk slowly and with a calm voice (not easy in these moments).  

After a moment of looking around and watching another car drive away, I sat him back in his car seat and talked about the fun that was ahead.  “Dad will be home when we get there, and we will cook dinner together and get to play together.”  His body softened into the seat and we were able to move forward as we normally do.

So thankful for this tool from Positive Discipline. I would love to hear comments of what you do when you get that hip thrust out of the car seat (or other tough moments).  I know they will come again!

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  • Miranda Sullivan

    You did a fabulous job! The only other tool that I have used that works for 2 year old is asking him if he wants me to put him in his seat or does he want to climb up in his seat. Not sure if the one year old can do that. But always getting them into a place of feeling better, in which you did is always the gift

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Author: FLORA

I am a new post-career SAHM, living in Bozeman Montana. I share stories and ideas from parenting with a Montessori and Positive Discipline inspired perspective. Also, I LOVE DIY projects and finding great ways to use thrift store or hand-made toys for my little one.
Learn more about why I say I'm "Just" a stay-at-home mom.

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