Debbie Granick is a parent/childbirth educator and freelance writer. She received a Masters in Social Work and a Masters in Public Health, specializing in Maternal and Child Health, from the University of North Carolina. Her previous work includes counseling adolescents and their families in a substance abuse prevention program, teaching tobacco education and reproductive health in a school setting, and consulting with local child care staff on toddler discipline strategies.

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Dear Debbie

Dear Debbie,

I need tips for getting my child to the car without a meltdown. Every day is a wrestling match to get the kid buckled in the seat….even if he’s going somewhere fun!
Help!

Put yourself in your child’s shoes. There is nothing appealing about stopping a game or leaving the TV to get into the boring car. He might be going somewhere enjoyable, but a toddler can’t see that far in the future. He only sees that right now he’d rather play legos than not! So make getting to the car more fun. Try:

“I’ll race you to the car!”

“Here’s a wipe to clean the windows before we go.”

“Can you push the garage door opener for me?”

“What snack do you want for the ride? Come pick one.”

“How many doggies do you think we’ll see on the way?”

“Do you think you can sing your ABC’s by the time I buckle you in?”

Environmental management helps, too. Put him at the table with one activity for the few minutes while you finish getting ready. He’ll be done when it’s time to go! And leave the TV off if you plan to leave soon. Going anywhere can’t compete with Clifford!

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