Wednesday, June 19, 2013

When My Toddler Won't Get In His Car Seat

When my toddler, Anders, doesn't want to get in or out of the car, I don't make him.

The other day my husband, our friend Ryan, my son Anders and I went out to eat. When we parked at the restaurant, Anders wanted to hang out in the car. I explained the situation to Ryan thus: "If Anders were another adult friend who turned to us and said, 'Hey guys, I need a few minutes to collect myself before we go into the restaurant. Would you mind waiting?' We would say, 'Sure, no problem.' And we would all wait. I see no reason we should not wait for Anders." Anders hung out in car for about five minutes and then told us he was "all done" and the four of us went happily into the restaurant.

At the peak of Anders's desire to spend time in the car (17-19 months approximately) about half an hour before I wanted to leave to go somewhere, I would invite him to get into the car. When he was done researching all the nooks and crannies in the front seat, he would climb into the back, get into his car seat and call me. Then we would leave. I loved this as I got a lot done in that time!

Often we when we did errands, he would want to get into the driver seat and do some exploring before heading home as well. At first this annoyed me, and then I thought, "What am I rushing home for? So that Anders and I can be together... at home? So that we could go to the park? There is nothing more important that I need to be doing than being with Anders."

It was an easy switch: before we went home, Anders would sit in the front seat pressing buttons, happy as could be and I would sit in the back seat, getting my email on my phone and reading, happy as could be.

Because Anders gets to go at his own pace so often, he is very respectful of the times when I want to rush. Whenever I tell him we are in a hurry, he gets right into his car seat or right out with no issues.

To be clear, I did forced Anders into his car seat about twice in his life. Both times I felt horrible and both times involved me choosing to use force against my toddler rather than to "disappoint" someone by "being late." Though I am rarely late for things, if given the choice today I would choose my relationship with my son over the imagined offense of tardiness.

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