Safety experts say that peer pressure to wear only seat belts makes booster use difficult for children and parents alike, especially if your child has been using a seat belt for a while. But though parents may be convinced of a booster's value, it can be tough to talk kids into going back to a seat they thought they'd outgrown. Here are some tactics to ease the transition.
Get a cool design. Manufacturers are increasingly trying to make booster seats look different from car seats by, for example, giving the fabric a military-fatigue style that boys might like or using sleeker-looking materials.
Push comfort. Show your child how a regular seat belt doesn't fit well. Point out the way the belt rubs her neck or how she has to slouch to make her legs feel comfortable. Explain that a booster is designed just for her.
Point out the view. By lifting your child up off the seat, a booster allows him to see out the window better.
Invoke safety. Without getting too graphic about the potential dangers, tell your child that you want him to be as safe as possible when riding in a vehicle. If he objects that you didn't make him ride in a booster before, tell him you didn't understand how important it was to have a special restraint just for him. "Answer questions firmly but simply," says Bill Hall, of the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, in Chapel Hill. "You don't want to scare the child, but you should provide enough detail for him to understand your reasons."
Don't negotiate. Compare the use of a booster seat to other nonnegotiable safety measures, such as wearing a bike helmet. "In the past, people didn't use those, either, until their value in preventing injury became clear," says Carole Guzzetta, of the National Safety Council. "There are a lot of things we make kids do that they don't like in order to keep them healthy and safe. This is one of them."