Sunday, June 19, 2005

Picking your Battles with Your Toddlers

By Christina VanGinkel

With all the traveling my daughter and her family do, my grandson has been accustomed to his car seat from day one. He has never been given the opportunity to ride in a vehicle without being strapped securely in his own seat. So imagine my surprise when my daughter informs me that she is having a heck of a time keeping him strapped in these days. She told me that she can be just running up the street to the grocery, barely five minutes in the car, and by the time she gets there, little Houdini is out of the seat. Not only is this illegal, it is potentially dangerous.

The car seat she is using is less than six months old, purchased brand new. Her husband and herself have gone over the straps, adjusted them so that they are snug, without being suffocating, yet so snug that to tighten them anymore would be inhumane. Yet if she takes her eyes off him for one minute, he is completely out of the seat. Every strap is still buckled, yet he is not.

How are they dealing with this? One thing they are doing is trying to see exactly how it is he is getting out, so that if there is anything they can do physically to the seat to keep him where he belongs, they can do it. They also stop the car immediately upon seeing that he is out. They tell him he belongs in his seat, that they are wearing their safety belts, and so must he. They then strap him back in, double check all the straps, and continue on their way. They have also been avoiding driving anywhere with him one parent at a time if possible. This way, while one parent is driving, the other parent can be monitoring his escape techniques. The only problem with that is that he seems to know when he is being watched, and will not attempt to climb out.

All parents will go through trials and errors such as this in the raising of their kids. Some things will be major problems, as this one potentially could be, and other times, the risk is small or nonexistent, yet the stress is huge. Learning to prioritize your battles can be the difference between handling stresses both small and big. Not long ago, my daughter had called to tell me that my adorable angel of a grandson had uttered a word that nearly made her fall over. She was mortified. Where had he heard the word she had no idea. As we all know, it only takes a child once to hear a word for him to repeat it a hundred times! After ignoring him the next ninety-nine times he tried out the word, he soon tired of it and is no longer repeating it. Had she made a big deal out of it in front of him, I can almost guarantee you that he would still be saying it every chance he got. Was he in any imminent danger from saying the unspeakable? None other than my daughter's embarrassment if he happened to say it when a kind elderly person was behind my daughter in a checkout line one day. However, no physical danger existed. She picked these two battles well, fighting the one and ignoring the other. She is learning well!

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