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A toddler with a stiff disposition

March 15, 2010

Dear Amy: A 16-month-old toddler relative has screaming tantrums when she cannot get her way. When this happens at home, the girl's parents call a "timeout." Being in a public place poses more challenges.

Someone suggested that the person who was with the toddler should strap her into her car seat and wait outside in the car until she was done screaming. However, this little girl is strong and stiffened her body to avoid sitting in the seat.

Any ideas?


Dear Wondering: As much as I dislike the idea of one person physically controlling another, there are times when adults do need to restrain or simply force a young child to yield -- when their basic safety or well being is at stake.

Because children must always be strapped in when they're in the car or stroller (for safety reasons), that is one time when the strength of the parent should override the toddler's iron will.

It is not good to shut a child in a car -- even if the parent is standing outside. Instead, the message should be, "You are out of control, and so I have decided that you shouldn't be in public. We need to leave now."

Send questions to Amy Dickinson by e-mail to or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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