Have you taught “car skills” to your toddler?

learn through play
Role play and make it fun!

If you’ve ever had to quite literally ‘restrain’ your toddler while trying to get them into the car seat read on. We are not saying the following tips will always work but they should give you a little more in the parenting armoury when trying to get your child to buckle up or even just into the car!

As children learn through play, use that to your advantage. Set aside some time to recreate the ‘travel experience’ in the home. Grab some old boxes or some cushions any prop you can use to build a car with your child.

Once the car rolls off the home production line the next step is all about the journey and here is where you get to model the behaviour you want your child to replicate when they get into a real car next time.

Close the door, jump into your seat and now for the big one, put on your seat belt. Sing a little song as you do it, Click clack front and back, the Wiggles, whatever comes to mind but make it FUN. Do it a few times then get into the pretend car and pretend to forget to put on your seat belt, the dialogue might go something like this.  “Hmm something is missing.. what have I forgotten to do.. can you help me remember?” and go through the routine with them from the start.

When you go to get into the real car next time use the words from your game again.. sing.. and ask them to remind you what to do as you put them into their car seat, again make it as much fun as it was when the two of you were playing pretend.

In our Early Learning Program we do a lot of role playing with the children and it’s a wonderful way to sneakily teach skills, of course if you have a child that just hates the car that’s another matter again so let’s try something different.

How about you have your next ‘picnic’ not at a destination you need to drive to but in the car itself. Invite the teddies and the toys and fold down the seats and have it right there in the driveway. The purpose is obvious and you will be surprised at what taking the anxiety out of something can do for a small child. With the car parked at home you might also like to read a book together on the back seat, let them play with the belts while you are reading, help them to feel comfy with ‘the car’ and then just get out and enjoy the rest of your morning or afternoon at home.

Try it a few times, not just once, and then when you do have to go somewhere ask your child if the car would like to take you on an adventure, make it fun and you have a far better chance of it being so.

All our children have their own little idiosyncrasies so if these don’t work talk to other parents, share your pain and maybe they can share some of their tips or at least a smile of ‘been there done that and look.. still alive!’.