Car Wars: Backseat Battles


car full of kids

Driving a car full of kids is often far from pleasant. Can I get an amen?! In fact, two authors I really like refer to it as Car Wars: Backseat BattlesAnd, boy, have my kids had a few of those battles.

A few years ago, I’d just pulled in to pick my kids up from school. Hannah got in first, claiming her spot by the window. But this meant that Emily had to climb over Hannah in order to sit down. As Emily was maneuvering her way in, Hannah elbowed her. Emily proceeded to awkwardly climb over her sister when Hannah elbowed her again. And so the chaos ensued…Emily cried that Hannah was hurting her. Hannah complained that Emily wouldn’t move. Before I’d even gotten out of the school parking lot, my girls were in a cat fight.   

Scenarios like this are all too common. So what can we do to end the madness of backseat bickering? Well, here are 3 solutions for ending the backseat battles in your car.

Pull Over and Stay Put

I like to call this first option The Pull Over and Stay Put. If your kids are bickering, no matter where you are going, don’t say a word, just pull over. When they finally ask why you’ve pulled over, say, “It is not safe to drive with you bickering and distracting me from the back seat.” Don’t start driving again until they’ve calmed down on their own.

The Walk Home

The next option is the Walk Home. It’s from the book Parenting with Love & Logic. I’ve never tried this, but I can see why this could help to get your kids out of the car and into the fresh air. If you’re close to home, and the walk is safe, this is a good option. It also sends the message that getting rides is a privilege.

The Missed Fun

And finally, this last option is one that I’ve put into action numerous times. But you have to be going somewhere fun. I remember when I once drove three of my kids to a birthday party. Of course, they were arguing before I’d even pulled out of the neighborhood. So I pulled over to the side of the road and gave my children a chance to stop their fighting. Megan and Marky immediately quit, but Emily continued to argue until she had the last word. Without saying a thing, I proceeded to drive to the party. Megan and Marky got out of the car and ran inside, but I stopped Emily and told her to stay put. Of course, I had to apologize to the mom and explain why Emily wasn’t going, but it taught Emily a lesson. We left the party and I drove Emily home.

Once you establish that backseat battles will not be tolerated in your car, encourage your kids to enjoy one another during long drives. Because at the end of the day, car rides are a great opportunity for children to strengthen their relationships with their siblings. {Tweet This}

Now, please tell me, when is the last time your car was filled with backseat battles?

To learn more about the parenting philosophy that includes ways to stop backseat bickering, and for more on the great section on Car Wars, check out Parenting with Love & Logic by Foster Cline, M.D. and Jim Fay.

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