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No matter how hard your child fights you, this is one area where just you can't cave, for both legal and safety reasons. The good news is that most of the time the child is already strapped in when the tantrum starts, says Marni Axelrad, Ph.D., a child psychologist at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, TX. "If the tantrum doesn't involve aggression toward others, the best approach is to ignore it. Turn your music up, sing yourself a little song, and concentrate on the road." If you can't concentrate, pull over, but keep ignoring until the tantrum stops. The moment it does, find something to say about the positive behavior being displayed ("Look at you sitting in your car seat so nicely!"). You can also play some simple games with him in the car, such as "I Spy," so that he sees that being in the car--and strapped in his car seat--can actually be fun.
If your child is a thrower when in a tantrum, Dr. Axelrad suggests removing her shoes and any other objects when you put her in her seat. You can try to avoid a tantrum altogether by giving children some power when they get into the seat, says Susan Bartell, Psy.D., parenting psychologist and author of The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask. If they can get into the car seat without making it difficult for you (that is, without resisting being belted; you can ignore whining and crying), they can listen to their music in the car, or pick which route to take to school, or, if you're really desperate and have the capability, watch a show in the car.
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