Take the buggy instead.

Give yourselves a break, if it’s only a short drive, maybe you could avoid taking the car - sometimes a walk is good for everyone. Or see if you can borrow or buy a second hand front pack or back pack – kids often enjoy the elevated view they get and you have your hands free.

Take your time.

If you’re not pressed for time, delay the journey for a bit. Give them something to eat, or do a fun activity. Explain ‘If we wait another ten minutes, you’ll need to be super-fast at getting in your car seat!”

Set an example.

Make sure everyone in your family uses safety belts every time they’re in the car. Give older siblings the chance to learn to buckle themselves in - you’re building their confidence and setting good habits. When you put your seat belt on say things like “okay now it’s my turn to buckle up and be safe.”

Stay calm (fake it until you make it).

Not wearing a car seat is not an option for them. Be consistent, be calm. Smile and sing through the frustration of getting them safely strapped in. Calmly explain why they have to wear their seat belt every time – and that you love them and don’t want to see them hurt.

Reward the behaviour you want to see.

Active toddlers don’t always like being ‘clipped’ in – think about how much time in a day they’ve spend being safely ‘restrained’? Thank them each time they stay safely buckled up in the car seat. Make up a silly celebration song as you go along in the car - “You are a car seat champion!”

Act quickly if there's an escape.

If your child undoes the straps, pull over as soon as it’s safe. Explain that you’re not going to start the car again until the buckle is done up. Take a deep breath and help them do it up again. 

If where you're heading is a place they enjoy, remind them the longer you spend stopped, the less time you’ll have there.

Think about the big picture.

If all the stress is tempting you to leave them unbuckled, think about what would happen if you had a crash and they weren’t in their car seat. Or what if you got pulled over by the police and ended up having to pay a huge fine? It’s hard sometimes, but try to keep things in perspective.

Make the car seat a fun place to be.

Have a car seat bag with favourite toys that they only get when they’re done up. Make the car seat itself interesting. Decorate it with stickers together. Make sure it’s also comfortable for them too – if you need help adjusting the straps call into your local Well Child/Tamariki Ora provider base and ask for a hand.

Sing to distract them.

Use a silly voice to try to distract them while you’re buckling them up. A song about going in the car (like the car seat song can work magic!) Repeating positive experiences like you singing with them establish pathways in their brains so they’ll associate the carseat with good times.

Over it? Use your phone timer to set a time limit for a play activity – your full attention for five minutes is better than half pai for longer.

Need back-up? Family members might be willing to help but not sure what to do. . Be specific – “could you please bath/feed change/dress baby”

Feeling like a bad parent? Look around and check is there anything that could be dangerous to the kids? If not, relax – you’re doing OK!

Feel like you’re always on the go? Your kids are the most important thing - and they’re only young once. Think about what absolutely must be done now and what can wait.

Worried what others think of your parenting? What your kids think of you is what really matters! If you focus on them, you’re already doing a great job.

Feeling down? Talking with someone you trust can be the first step to finding help. Working out whether your feelings are temporary or more lasting is important. Depressed? Writing down your feelings in a daily diary will help you monitor whether it’s getting better or worse. This will also help you explain better if you go to your doctor.

Sick of yelling? Try singing your frustration instead. If you hop or jump at the same time, everyone gets the giggles — another great tension buster!

Feeling yuk? If no-one else can help with the kids, grab a pillow and blanket - set up camp in your lounge until you start to feel better

Had enough? You may feel like you need alcohol or drugs to relax – but they often make the situation worse, especially when you have to deal with kids. Who could help you cut down or cut it out?

Stress over unpaid bills? Have a banking setup that automatically takes money out for your main bills first. Then you know what you have left to survive on.

Determined to stay calm?

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Putting it all together

SKIP’s approach is based on six things which children need from parents to help them grow into happy, capable adults.

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  • Love & warmth

  • Talking & listening

  • Guidance & understanding

  • A structured & secure world

  • Consistency & consequences

  • Limits & boundaries