Do your kids throw a tantrum, scream at the top of their lungs, and try to wiggle out of their seats every time they are put in the car? These tips below will help you encourage them to sit quietly in cars.
If you put your kids by themselves and watch what they naturally end up doing, you are likely to witness a constantly jumping, running, and playing toddlers. That is the natural state of a child: in constant motion. From that understanding, now you could see why your kids refuse to sit in the car with seatbelts strapping them down, denying them of the rights to run around and have all the fun in the world. You may think to yourself that the kids are never grateful for whatever good things the parents do to them, but here is the thing - rather than requiring your children to get you and screaming at them again and again for not doing things right (which they are likely to continue), why don’t you make an attempt to understand them at the first place? If that is something that is too big for you to grasp, just know that being confined in a car seat for a prolonged period of time is an act of punishment for the kids instead of an act out of love and care.
Making children sit quietly in cars is not an easy thing
With that being said, below are the tips that can help you make travelling with your children in car less like a wrestling match and a yelling competition.
1. Talk with them
The first thing you can do to improve the in-car experience both for you and for your children is to talk to them. Many of you may pull your hair and scream to the screen: “I have done that MULTIPLE times already and it does not work!!!”. Calm down and stay with us. The thing is that it does not matter whether you say something to your children to your children or not, it is what you say and how you say it that matter.
As mentioned above, you should start from a place of understanding your kid’s point of view, and go from there. Something that validates their feelings and agitation would be really great to calm down your children, but at the same time, you have to insert one or two sentences which state that putting on the seatbelt is non-negotiable. A great example would be “I know that you do not enjoy sitting in the car. I understand that it is uncomfortable, but we have to go, sweetie. We are going on a drive so you must buckle up. I trust you can do it.” Acknowledging your children’s point of view does work wonders. People say that kids know everything so your effort to understand them will not go wasted.
Tell the children that you acknowledge their feelings and discomfort
2. Enlist the help of siblings
If you have more than two children and one is considerably older than the other, you can ask the older one to help calm down the more agitated small one. Kids in a lot of cases do not listen to adults but do follow their peers, so you can ask your older kids for assistance. Distraction works well to ease uncomfortable children, and it is even better when a sibling plays with him or her and strengthens their bonds at the same time. An older kid can talk with the younger one, tell stories, show picture children books, and do a million other things. Now, be careful as the laughter of two or more children can be very high-pitched and loud, but at least that is better than the sound crying and screaming due to discomfort.
You can ask the older sibling to help calm down the upset small one
3. Reinforce the positive experience
Whatever you do with your kids, do NOT be stingy with your compliments. Notice the smallest nice things they do that make you feel good and give them a lot of praises for them. And when we say a lot of praises, we mean A LOT, as if your kids just won a Nobel Prize for being great kids. If one day, your children happen to sit in the car without all the noise and restlessness, it does not matter why the kids choose to do that (you can ask them the reasons later), you should just compliment them for being nice kids and not interfering with the driving. When they have the reinforcement words from you, the parents that they love and trust so much, they will start to associate the experience of sitting quietly and nicely in the car with good rewards, then repeat the action more often.
If you want to take the reinforcement work further, you can also give them the treats or toys that they love when they do not refuse to sit in the car. However, you should be careful with materialistic rewarding, because they may be temporarily nicer when they get the toys or candies, and when you happen to forget or do not want to reward them at all, they will throw a bigger tantrum.
You should reward your kids with praises or gifts for sitting nicely in cars