Not a Discipline Issue

In my Google research on the car seat dilemma from my post yesterday, the main consensus is that this is a discipline issue.  Many of you suggested that I teach her not to unbuckle her seat.  (And I say this with great love and respect and the knowledge that you all love my baby too.)  But I respectfully disagree.  Yes, I will also teach her not to unbuckle her seat.  But I don’t see this as a discipline issue, I see this as a safety issue.  Let me explain. (Also, none of you were rude and condescending like the people I found in Google yesterday, suggesting that if I just spanked her when she unbuckled her seat, all the problems would be solved.)

I don’t teach Elizabeth not to play with knives as a not-yet-two year old and then leave the knives within her reach.  I lock them up so that she can’t get to them.  I don’t tell her not to turn on the hot water and stick her arm underneath, I turn the thermostat on the hot water heater below the scald danger zone.  I mean, I also teach her not to stick her arm in hot water, but I do so with the knowledge that if she disobeys me, she won’t be permanently injured.  (For the record, hot water was a one lesson for her.  She stuck herself under once, shrieked, and now says “back up!” and stays on the other side of the tub when any water is running.)

Yes, I totally agree that discipline and teaching her to buckle the seat would absolutely work in the long term.  But what if we are in a car accident in the short term?  Also, with where we are located, I do most of my driving on the highway, at seventy miles per hour, with at least five minutes between exits.  There is no safe place to pull over and correct her.

The other main problem is that she is a toddler.  And the perfectly behaved toddler does not exist.  She WILL disobey me.  Toddlers are all about testing their limits.  We mainly have the unbuckling issue when she is being defiant and doesn’t want to sit in her seat.  (She occasionally unbuckles herself just to play, but her car toys are more fun than the buckle, so that is rare.)  Usually she is unbuckling herself when she doesn’t want to get in the car so she’ll just get out herself, SO THERE MAMA.  She’s learning to obey because I am strict with consequences, but she does not obey every single time and you cannot expect her to at this developmental stage.

So for the short term, we are going to start by turning the buckle around.  If that doesn’t work, I will find or design some kind of device that keeps her from reaching the buckle.  (Also, I am waiting to hear what Graco says.)

I realize that riding in a car is pretty much the most dangerous single thing she’ll do in her life.  For my comfort level, for my peace of mind, I need to make sure that not only that she won’t unbuckle herself, but that she cannot unbuckle herself.