074 – Chapter 7 – Part 18

How to Apply Time-out Outside Your Home (continued) 

A Family Issue to Avoid

You stressed that our son should sit in his car seat but he likes to lay in the space behind the van’s back seat with his toys. What’s wrong with that?

In the U.   S. children must be buckled into age-appropriate car seats. While consulting on hospital pediatric wards, I had several saddening experiences with families whose children were badly injured and, in a couple of cases, killed in auto collisions. In each case, the child was not buckled into a car seat. All of those who survived were left with limited capabilities and years of misery.

It did not matter where in the car the children started. If they were not restrained, they were battered as they struck other objects. On two occasions the children had been standing in the front seat when the collision occurred. One of these involved a bump of the car in front soft enough to barely dent the bumpers on both cars; however, both children smashed into the windshield and both ended up with severe brain damage. Both, after healing on the outside, looked like the beautiful little children they had been, but neither was responsive to the outside world in any meaningful way.

The parents involved in these cases reported tearfully that their children had refused or objected to staying in their car seats. All were equally sure nothing serious would happen to their children. Yet they were living a parent’s ultimate nightmare. I needn’t tell other parents how these parents felt as they beheld the damage to their precious children. These children paid enormous prices for the “freedom” to sit as they pleased in the car. My hope is that no other child ever suffers the same fate and that no other parent lives the lifetime of regret and pain that goes with it.

The program presented here includes tools necessary to assure your child’s compliance and therefore safety. While sitting buckled in a car seat may be a bit inconvenient, it is easy to provide a comfortable, safe seat and easy access to toys. Even lengthy family trips can be enjoyable with suitable preparation. A sturdy box filled with a selection of safe toys and games and placed in a middle seat for use as a table for joint play can help entertain children for many otherwise tedious hours of driving. The key is for parents to take seriously their role in protecting their children so that travel can stay a healthy, happy, conflict-free experience.

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Life affords no greater responsibility, no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation.

                                                                                   ~C. Everett Koop

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