If you have a battle getting the kid in the car..


New member
What do you do? I need helpful tips beyond ripping my hair out and screaming in frustration.
Both of my younger boys are refusing to even get in the car. They are both rear facing and aside from one week of forward facing for my 3 year old, have never known different. They've never given me any problems getting into the car until now.
My youngest does the "stiff as a board" if I can get him into the car and the older one does the "absolutely refuse to get into the car at all."
This results in my chasing down the 3 year old and picking him up and bending him in half so he will fit through the door ready to be deposited into the seat. Then I have to hold him down and put the straps on. Then he cries for the entire ride.
The 2 year old stands up in the seat as soon as he touches it and stiffens everything up. Tickling him doesn't work. He only goes slack for a second before stiffing up again.
They also both hook their armpits over the top of the Radian headwings for extra "not budging" power.

This is super frustrating. I can't be chasing my 3 year old down every day. I don't want this to become routine like it seems to be going.
I will not forward face them. I don't think the way the seats are facing is making any difference.


New member
My 2 year old doesn't understand "why?" So, that wouldn't work with him.
My 3 year old just says "because I don't want to" and runs off.


New member
turtlemama said:
My 2 year old doesn't understand "why?" So, that wouldn't work with him.
My 3 year old just says "because I don't want to" and runs off.

I would recommend reminding them constant of where they sit in the car , before you'll be going in the car etc.
For example an hour before leaving , okay boys we are going to be going to the store soon , we will go out and then get into our seats and be buckled up for safety . Do it about every 15 minutes in the hour , individually to each child . That might seem crazy to do so often but it really does help , reminding them and then on the way to the car say " when we get to the car it's time to sit nicely in our seats "

I work in a daycare centre and in the preschool/ toddler alot of the children need to be reminded of things often , for example in an hour it'll be nap time , we will be laying on our beds quietly and having a rest just like our friends etc etc.
Hope this helps!
Good luck!


New member
THIS is my two year old, she does everything your kids do, exactly, from going stiff as a board to hooking her arms around the top of the seat and using her feet to push on the seat infront of her for extra leverage. I know what triggers it for my two year old, mostly its the desire to play outside and her being upset that the the only reason we are outside is to go in the minivan. I don't have a solution for you but what works for me about 70% of the time is to bribe her with things forbidden. Yes i know that it like rewarding poor behaviour but desperate times call for desperate measures. i give my daughter stickers, a treat to eat, or a kitten to hold and usually that is enough to distract her so that i can buckle her up. Other time i just have to force her in. i feel for you, its a pain in the butt when kids do this, but most go through it at some point. my oldest two did it as well. They will grow out of it. :) eventually. ;)


New member
I should have specified about my 2 year old. He has a speech and cognitive delay. He would have no idea what it meant if I said we were going to the store in an hour. He only understands simple one step directions or yes or no questions.
I also am trying really hard not to do bribery. I suppose letting them hold something while they are getting buckled in isn't bribery, though, is it? It's not like I bought them a new toy or gave candy.
I will see if the holding thing works.


New member
turtlemama said:
I should have specified about my 2 year old. He has a speech and cognitive delay. He would have no idea what it meant if I said we were going to the store in an hour. He only understands simple one step directions or yes or no questions.
I also am trying really hard not to do bribery. I suppose letting them hold something while they are getting buckled in isn't bribery, though, is it? It's not like I bought them a new toy or gave candy.
I will see if the holding thing works.

Bribery is part of parenting.
If you want to be able to play later with your ____
You need to do your job now and get in your seat.
I don't see anything wrong with it.

I never had this issue with my kids but when you have 2 they hang up on you. Maybe a special car toy? Or cd? Or let them pick a book to listen to??

It's harder rear facing to get them in that seat if they fight.

auto correct hates me


New member
You have described my 2 year old as well. I usually offer him a special snack for sitting in his seat, something he otherwise doesn't have elsewhere. I keep a box of organic fruit roll up type snacks in the car for these occasions. Or we also keep a few stuffed animals in our car that sometimes just offering him will be enough to get him to sit. Sometimes nothing works though. I feel your frustration.


New member
Wow, that sounds frustrating!

My 3-year-old climbs through the hatch and I can't physically ever put him in, so he MUST do so. Then I buckle him by leaning over. He's rear-facing too. The 4-year-old is really good and I sometimes challenge her to buckle her Radian in 10 seconds (she can do this alone). The 6-year-old does his booster by himself and I check, and the baby get plopped in the Orbit, and the rotation is a lifesaver.
Still, the amount of time it takes to go anywhere is a lot, and when we add #5, even more.

I would try a bribe. You don't want to go crazy! :)


New member
My kids do that sometimes too. When they go still I grab their arms and force them in, then push their hips down and as soon as they move I buckle the crotch strap as fast as I can. They usually scream for a little while but at least they're safe.


I would do a few car trips just for fun. Who wants to go to the park! Get them all excited, yay we're going to the park! well yes we are, right after you get in your car seat! for trips you have to go somewhere else, have a reward ready for afterwards.

and give them choices. bribery if that's what it takes. you can get in your car seat or we can sit here and be bored. if you get in your car seat fast we'll have time for a treat on the way, if you take a long time there's no time for a treat.

failing that, just leave early. an hour early if you have to. don't fight them, they're just going to get bigger and stronger and more crafty. trust me been there ;) get in the car and wait it out, it might take a few times...

I feel your pain. At least they aren't yelling "MOMMY STOP HURTING ME!!" (when I wasn't even touching him) or yelling for help like mine did LOL :)


New member
I've been playing this game w/ my 3.5yo since he was about that age. He also has a language delay w/ Hearing Impairment. I've found a few things that *help*.
-Not going in the car when he's tired/hungry.

-Giving him a choice. Are you getting into your seat yourself, or am I *putting* you there. With emphasis in a undesirable tone about me putting him in it. Or am I putting YOU in first or your brother. Ooh, that one works well, a little bit of a contest. If you're lucky once 3yo gets in, then 2yo will follow. If not, I might try a we're going now, are you staying or coming? You're hooped if he calls your bluff, but mine has never gotten farther than me getting in the car and closing the door (to count to 10 before I explode w/ frustration).

I liked the car seat lady thing about how little kids do not like being strapped down, it has nothing to do w/ orientation. Though, my 3.5yo recently has been riding FF (crash lost my RN) and he's been so much better in the car I'm contemplating a Frontier over a RN...



Active member
Myy 2 year old son is a pain to get into his car seat also. I usually distract him with a toy while I try to buckle him in which helps.


Active member
My first did this when I was heavily pregnant with my second. I started giving him a cookie when it was time to leave the house! That got us through diaper, shoes, car seat, etc. I viewed it as distraction, not bribery. ;)


Admin - CPST Instructor
Staff member
Have you tried letting them strap themselves in on their own? Or maybe clipping the chest clip on their own? Perhaps they feel out of control and giving them that little bit will help.

I'll never forget standing outside my BRU with my ds who was 2 at the time and I was very pg. He was throwing a first class tantrum about getting in his carseat and I was throwing one right back at him. It was terrible. He absolutely would NOT get in his seat and I couldn't force him. So we sat in the parking lot with the doors closed for 45 minutes until he wore himself out enough to not fight me anymore. I was seething mad, but, you know, what can you do? He cried all the way home. I think I put myself in time out when we got home, lol.


CPST and ketchup snob
Staff member
Sometimes if you carry them to the car "scooped"- already in the RF position, body bent, one arm under knees, one under back- it's easier to buckle them in before they can fight.

Also, bribery: my mom always says, "It's not bribery, it's positive reinforcement, and it's clinically proven to work." ;)


New member
For a very short time my DD didn't want to get in her seat. I got a small bag of m and ms and put them in a container in the car. She got 1 if she got in her seat perfectly. None if she didnt. It worked great. It's not bribery if you follow thru, if they don't obey and you give them more than one chance and they still get the treat, then it's bribery. It's positive reinforcement if you follow thru on what the directions are.


New member
It's not bribery - it's incentive. Why do I go to work? Because they bribe me (give me incentive) by giving me a paycheck. No Paycheck? No working. Bribery is a fact of life

I would have no problems having a special toy/activity that they can only do when they get in the car.


New member
Good luck! I'm sorry you're going through this. I've always let Matthew buckle up himself. It takes extra time. Sometimes if I'm in a hurry I make a game of it and count how long it takes him. He always rises to the occasion:) Maybe if you could get the older kiddo happy the younger one would follow suit. I'd definitely try the 1 M & M trick maybe with something less messy though. Matthew can make a mess with 1 M&M - he is the messiest kid I've ever met.

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