Child restraints and embarrassment

teekadog

Active member
I'm feeling off today so please excuse my lack of self-restraint but I've always been taken aback on these boards when I read about kids being embarrassed about their car seats and so few people (if any) speak up to say "don't be." I'm excited about the Incognito too but do we have to hail it as a cure for booster embarrassment? Why do our kids have to be embarrassed at all?

Several years ago when I only had two young rear facers my sil moved her two oldest boys out of boosters. She's a smaller lady and my bil is a husky guy. Their first son took after her and their second son (2 years younger) took after bil. From ages 3 and 1 they were taken for twins at best, or people assumed younger nephew was older because he was bigger. I'm sure you can imagine the burden that was for the boys and parents to carry.

Sil wisely went by size rather than age for car seats so younger nephew was restrained until he 5-stepped. Unfortunately he 5-stepped before older nephew. Sil looked for a seat to keep younger nephew in but he was just too big- he needed to use just the cars' belts. The problem was that the boys were very competitive as brothers can be and this was a huge stressor for the family so sil "graduated" older nephew from a booster too, even though he still needed one. I recall this vividly even though I was in lala-RFers land because while on a family reunion vacation sil was doing all she could not to drive anywhere because she was so nervous about older nephew riding without a booster. And yet this had been her decision! She really felt her hands were tied. Societal pressure, family pressure, and now unhappiness from older nephew being jealous of younger nephew were just too great. I really felt for her.

I didn't speak up about it for several reasons but it stuck with me and I became "that" parent about car seats- but with a twist. NO ONE in my presence is allowed to make comments about child restraints and age or even use the word "little."

My children are still in car seats because they are "small" (in terms of size) but not "little" (too many age-related connotations). Rear facing is not for "babies," it's simply safer (unless you're the driver- I always try to interject humor). Car seats are based on size as are life jackets. How long will you last stranded at sea if your life jacket is too big to fit well? My kids know the skeleton/Twinkie thing first hand as we have a relative that landed himself in the hospital because his seatbelt was worn improperly.

And I have avoided posting this because I assumed I would get flamed for homeschooling. Because I homeschool there is no drop-off lane where other kids see my kids in car seats. And that's true. I'm absolutely certain my helicopter parenting has prevented a vast amount of teasing. But it has happened and as the mom (who is always there) I explain our choices and then laugh along with them about how "overprotective" I am. (I've learned through trial and error it's rude to point out they are being "under protective.") And then later I go over with my kids yet again the reasons they are still in car seats.

But then this happened: My 6yo used a Graco Connext box to make his Valentine box for our homeschool group's Valentine party. Apparently as I was manning a craft table someone asked my son if that was his car seat on the box. He replied no, it was 11yo's. This got back to 11yo, and not in the most respectful manner. I didn't hear about this until that night at dinner when she very proudly told us how she handled it. She tried the Twinkie analogy but they weren't getting it. So she used the life jacket one and they got that. "My conclusion," (this kid cracks me up), "was that it's no more appropriate to make fun of a kid in a car seat than to make fun of a kid in glasses- I need a booster to fit in a seatbelt just as much as they need glasses to see."

So I guess this is a brag post. And since I'm being honest I'll admit it's a brag post on me. I taught her to parrot those words. But look! She's 11yo and not embarrassed to need a booster! Maybe next time my 5'4" self goes to buy a car I'll bring an incognito so I don't have to limit myself to only the cars in which I can see over the hood. (Although I do wish they came in pretty colors. If I'm going to accessorize I'd like to make a statement.)
 
ADS

safeinthecar

Moderator - CPS Technician
I wrote a post to my business FB page when the Incognito was first announced about how I handles boosters and peer pressure with my kids. Here it is.

Parents will do just about anything to stop their kids from being teased, and being called a "baby" is one of the worst things ever from a child's point of view.

There is a booster made specifically with this in mind, the Safety 1st “Incognito” (review here http://carseatblog.com/23450/safety-1st-incognito-kid-positioning-seat-preview/ ) but the most effective remedy for teasing and bullying is the support and love of family and friends.

Maybe someday we will be lucky enough to have a celebrity that proudly and openly uses a booster seat for their child at 8+ years of age. (Feel free to volunteer any celebrities that owe you a favor ) Until then, empower your child to be safe AND confident by keeping them in their booster until the seat belt fits properly with the following tactics:

1: Have a couple of spare boosters on hand for car pools. When my kids were of the age where pretty much everybody in their class needed a booster (but few actually used them) field trips were...interesting. I stalked Big Lots and picked up 10 no back boosters for $30 so that I could always have enough boosters for any child that rode with me on field trips. This eliminated teasing because MY child wasn't the only one I was "making" ride in a booster, and 2 protected me from a ton of fines. Currently you can be fined $445 for every child under the age of 16 in your car that isn't properly restrained and not fitting the seat belt properly counts as not properly restrained.

2: Find out which kids in the class also use a booster and ask the teacher to buddy them up with your child for field trips when you can't drive. Also, generate more buddies by educating other parents and talking them into using a booster for their child too. (This is especially effective if you have driven their child on prior field trips and gave the child a built in peer group of booster riders by having enough for everybody in your car.) When my oldest was in the 2nd grade, some boys were teasing her over her booster and a group of her field trip buddies came to her rescue. Suddenly, the mean boys were outnumbered and backed off quick.

3: Teach your child to own the situation with some good witty comebacks. Practice responding to "you ride in a baby seat comments" "Well of course I do, I'm smart enough to tell when my shoes fit, and I'm smart enough to tell when my seat belt fits" or "Yeah, it sucks, but that's the way it is" or even, "OK, if you say so". The exact thing they say doesn't really matter, as long as they feel like they have a confident response.
 

joolsplus3

Admin - CPS Technician
"My conclusion," (this kid cracks me up), "was that it's no more appropriate to make fun of a kid in a car seat than to make fun of a kid in glasses- I need a booster to fit in a seatbelt just as much as they need glasses to see."

Hahaha, love that.
I usually equate it to shoes or clothes. We don't all start wearing dad's size 10 shoes just because we turned 8, because they'd fall off if you tried to run. No shame, just size.
I can't wait till there's no social stigma to booster use.... I try to get my kids to be matter-of-fact about booster use to their peers, too. And THIS kid now has a second degree blackbelt, and a driver's license, funny he survived being in a booster so long :p http://carseatblog.com/5671/too-old-for-a-booster-says-who/
 

Keeanh

Well-known member
I'm feeling off today so please excuse my lack of self-restraint but I've always been taken aback on these boards when I read about kids being embarrassed about their car seats and so few people (if any) speak up to say "don't be." I'm excited about the Incognito too but do we have to hail it as a cure for booster embarrassment? Why do our kids have to be embarrassed at all?...

This got back to 11yo, and not in the most respectful manner. I didn't hear about this until that night at dinner when she very proudly told us how she handled it. She tried the Twinkie analogy but they weren't getting it. So she used the life jacket one and they got that. "My conclusion," (this kid cracks me up), "was that it's no more appropriate to make fun of a kid in a car seat than to make fun of a kid in glasses- I need a booster to fit in a seatbelt just as much as they need glasses to see."


I think people don't bother to address the embarrassment factor because it's sort of a moot point as far as the board goes. All of us here know that it's not something to be embarrassed about. We all try to pass this attitude on to our children. We all try to share it with our friends. But we also have to accept the fact that this is the norm for most kids. So, yeah, it's not that people are ignoring it so much as it's a rather irrelevant point on a board like this.

I also have an 11yo in a booster. I want an Incognito because it'll fit in hockey bags and be more convenient. He's not the least bit embarrassed. In fact, at 4'11" & 83lbs, he 5-steps in most vehicles, but still has a better fit in a low-profile booster. He uses a booster in my van because it's there, but in other vehicles I let him decide. He always chooses his booster.

Love your story about your 11yo. We homeschool too, and I see the same confident attitude in a lot of my kids. It's not that they resist bullying or pressure, but rather that they're apart from it and not conditioned to that kind of peer culture, so they react more like adults would. I could tell many similar stories.
 

Mom2natalie

New member
Thankfully no one has made fun of my six year old...yet. She's in a 5 pt Nautilus as her main seat, but is going into a Parkway in April.

Anyhow, our townhouse is in a cul de sac, with LOTS of little girls...and mine is the only one in a car seat...at all.

The 3rd grader and 1st grader who live closest BOTH sit in the front seat. In GA it's not against the law. They're both over 8. But my husband and I have made it clear to our daughter that we use the seats we do to keep her safe. She seems to accept this. Maybe it's because she has life threatening food allergies and we've always had to make sure her food is safe before she eats it...so she's used to us doing things differently than other parents.

I've also told her that she shouldn't feel embarrassed by her seat. Thankfully her best friend is also still in a 5 pt harness.

Every time I see the little first grader riding in the front seat I get so mad. I have an extra backless booster, and I've thought about asking her Mom if she wants it, but I'm sure I'd be wasting my time. I don't think it's that they cannot afford a booster, the kid always has new clothes from "Justice" in the mall.
 

Phineasmama

New member
Granted my oldest is only 7 years old, but she was in a harnessed seat up until this summer (she can't sit still) and she was never embarrassed. People made comments to me and I brushed them off. She's in a HBB now and she's never said a word about being embarrassed. In fact, my kids get really annoyed if someone else gets a new seat/booster and they don't lol. I think most of it is the parental attitude rubbing off on the kids. I love car seats so my kids do too.
 

henrietta

New member

Mom2natalie

New member
An 8 year old first grader? Many 8 years olds are in third grade, more are probably in second grade.

Anyhoo, under 8 is illegal to be in front seat in Georgia. I know you knew that, but here's a link to GA laws for those interested: http://www.gahighwaysafety.org/fullpanel/uploads/files/childpassengerc3.pdf

You're right, my daughter says she's only six. I don't think there's anything I can do about it though. I've thought about calling the police when she drives off with her in the front seat.
 

teekadog

Active member
That's a great FB post. I'm not on FB and I think I miss about 80% of the internet because of it. And I remember that CSB post! It deserves a rerun.

Thanks for chilling me out. I was totally off that day and it's great to be reminded there are such great people out there.
 

Pixels

New member
Hahaha, love that.
I usually equate it to shoes or clothes. We don't all start wearing dad's size 10 shoes just because we turned 8, because they'd fall off if you tried to run. No shame, just size.
I can't wait till there's no social stigma to booster use.... I try to get my kids to be matter-of-fact about booster use to their peers, too. And THIS kid now has a second degree blackbelt, and a driver's license, funny he survived being in a booster so long :p http://carseatblog.com/5671/too-old-for-a-booster-says-who/

I love that analogy with dad's shoes. I'm tucking that one away for future use.
 

Nedra

Car-Seat.org Ambassador
I love that analogy with dad's shoes. I'm tucking that one away for future use.

I'm tucking all of these away! I like the "I'm smart enough to know when the seat belt fits," one too. And the one about allergies. My daughter has to take a hormone pill everyday (and has since she was 10 days old) and so I'm hoping that when these conversations come up, we can explain it to her similarly in the "fair means giving everyone what they need, not just giving everyone the same thing" vein.
 

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