simpering hippies and a snarling hellcat

"bedtime" with green lantern
Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

Your toddler goes stiff as a board and won’t get in her car seat? Oh my god, how will you persuade her to co-operate?

I can’t believe someone just asked that question and about 30 people on my local mom-list answered with a variant of be nicer/persuade/explain/distract/wait-it-out. One person boldly used the word “stern.” One other mom hinted that getting mad might be difficult to overcome.

Hello…. you are an enormous, powerful grownup and you have stuff to do.

I liked my sister’s response. “A simple karate chop to the belly should do it.” Hahahah! Just kidding, people… I hate the pro-spanking rhetoric, and would never hit my kid.

Since when did being mad, stern, or displeased go out of style? It’s like there’s no middle ground between weak-spined bribery and child abuse.

One of my most effective tactics is to warn that I might be about to get mad. This has to be done with a serious frown. And if I’m mad, it doesn’t help to pretend I’m not mad. If I’m in a hurry and need to drive somewhere, why should I pretend to be infinitely patient?

The line, there, to me, is to not tell the kid they’re bad. You can snarl out, “I’m getting really mad because you’re not buckled into your carseat and I’m in a hurry.” But you should not add to that sentence, “…you damn brat.” Are we clear on the difference?

The worst suggestion was for the mom to offer a trip to the zoo and then when the kid refuses to go in her car seat, then shrug and say “Okay, I guess little kids who don’t go in their car seat don’t get to go to the zoo!” and go in the house again. It strikes me that this will lead to a screaming meltdown and will only teach the 18 month old that her mom’s a huge bitch. I guess maybe it works in that the kid gets to experience “consequences.”

Everyone’s got a different style of parenting, sure. But now we can’t ever have a moment of being pissed off? We’re supposed to raise kids without ever frowning or disapproving? I have a horrible feeling this is part of the patriarchal message to women that they should “be nice” at every single moment.

Tickling, offering special toys, singing a little song, and specially yummy food when you’re in the carseat … I don’t think so. How about a million dollars and a f#&%$#! pony while you’re at it?

Now that we’ve cleared that up, you can all go yell at your kids.

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9 Responses to simpering hippies and a snarling hellcat

  1. Anonymous says:

    Ah, when mine were toddlers, all I'd do is simply calmly, matter-of-factly, put them in the seat and let em squawk. I don't get why parents seem so frightened of their kids.

  2. Mary Tsao says:

    Yuck.I take the straightforward, "get in your carseat so that we can get going" approach. I get irritated/stern at the third request. I guess the kid can tell that my voice has now changed and he had better get his butt in the seat, pronto.Because I am an enormous powerful grownup and I have stuff to do. Like go to that silly music class or Target to buy diapers. Damnit.

  3. Mary Tsao says:

    But Mike just pointed me to some Lifehacker article about this that suggested the parent take away something the child likes to make the child learn about consequences. I'd give this a try but my kids don't carry around toys or blankets or pacifiers. What am I supposed to take away? Their shoes?

  4. badgermama says:

    Their dignity? 😎

  5. Jo says:

    I say just start driving, and then slam on the brakes suddenly! That'll learn 'em!Note to CPS: I am joking.

  6. wired says:

    Oh, it's good that I have permission to yell, because I was parent-on-duty all day yesterday, and it was not pretty.Things I yelled/got stern/counted to three about:No hitting (sibling)!No throwing in the house!No dancing on the table! (too loud, evidently, because said miscreant was so startled she fell off the table)No drinking bubble stuff!No light sabers in the house!Privileges the three-year-old lost for non-compliance:"puters games""fish game"tvdessertConclusion: I do not pay my husband enough.

  7. dorothy says:

    I just use my considerable size advantage to stick her flailing arms in the car seat. You can do that without inflicting permanent damage!

  8. Jenny says:

    "It strikes me that this will lead to a screaming meltdown and will only teach the 18 month old that her mom's a huge bitch. "Bwahahahahaha!

  9. Patty says:

    I remember those days. When even being stern wasn't enough. (Cause they were too little to care?) I would calmly and firmly push on that tummy until I could get the strap over and click! slide that buckle home. Because screaming, pissed off toddlers arch their backs, that's why. And mentally looking over my shoulder, wondering if anyone thought I was torturing my child. Carseat drama! I'm glad those days are over.