Car Sassy

Updated on January 05, 2014
M.P. asks from De Pere, WI
12 answers

DS is 3.5 and has been getting sassy in the car. Doing things all kids do - kicking the seat (which I ignore, but hubby doesn't), being loud, etc. He is at the age where he doesn't always stop when you ask him to and really pushes the limits to see how much he can get away with. For the most part, I know he is trying to get attention and testing his limits so a lot I try to ignore, but sometimes it is a distraction while driving and that isn't good either. But the more I try to say something, sometimes the worse it gets...

How do you get kids to behave in the car and know that you mean business? I have thought about the whole "If you don't stop I am going to pull this car over......" but when you pull the car over, then what?

What do you do when your young kids are being testy/sassy in the car??

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So What Happened?

Thank you for all of your responses.

First of all, I will not spank. It's not my style. I understand for some it might work. Fine. But I won't do it. But thank you for your input.

Second, I like the idea of having things for him to look at/do. Usually we do, but sometimes it is hard for us to keep a tidy car and it just got cleaned out and nothing like that replaced. We are making the transition to the next car seat so he will be able to reach more on his own, which will help, I think. Thanks!

Third, today while driving with my son and niece, they started to get noisy. We were listening to the Packer game on the radio and I said, "Hey! I have a game. Listen to the radio and I want you to listen for the word TOUCHDOWN" They were SO QUIET! Then at one point they did say it as part of just normal conversation between the announcers and my son said, "I heard touchdown!" Great quick thinking on my part! :-D

Thanks again!

Featured Answers



answers from Portland on

With my grandchildren at this age I would pull off the road and just sit. I would say just once that we would get on the road when they stopped doing whatever they were doing. Then I looked straight ahead and didn't say anything. I only had to do that a couple of times. I would say, do you want me to pull over and they would stop.

If you don't have things in the car for him to do, doing so will help keep in occupied and less likely to misbehave because he's bored.

5 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Jacksonville on

I only had to pull over once. ;)

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Pack a magazine or two, and then, yes, when he doesn't respond, pull the car over. "It's not safe for me to drive when you are (name distracting/annoying action), so I will wait." And then, get out your magazine and put your attention there, even if you are only pretending.

I have friends who have done this-- the first time, they say, usually takes a while for the kids to believe it's real and quiet down. Also a bummer when "well, we had to stop driving for so long, now we don't have time for (fun destination/playdate) etc. " What's really boring to the kids is just sitting there, on the side of the road, getting NO attention.

Then, once it stops, if it starts again, pull over again.
Frankly, I wish more parents would do this. I have taken plenty of rides with friends where their kids were just screaming the whole time. We do not let that go on. If we have to pull over, you bet you are also going to lose a privilege at home as well. My kid is 6 now, and he's perfectly capable of being quiet when we need him to be, esp in dicey traffic-- but at three, just pull over and ignore the heck out of them.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My 5 yr old does it sometimes, pushing the limits. The car is the same as the house. She loses privileges immediately or as soon as we get home.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

I've pulled over and asked them to get out. They smarten up instantly.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

it's good not to over-react, but when a child is testing limits, just ignoring doesn't do the trick. they still don't know what the limits are.
distracting the driver is not acceptable. it's harder to use 'when we get home you will lose ___ privilege' because 3 year olds live in the moment. when possible, pull over and sit in icy silence. this isn't always possible, of course, but surprising effective for most kids.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

The more you respond to it the more they do it. Until you swat their hiney for it. They they stop. A swift swat on the rear often gets kiddo's attention when nothing else does. He'll know you mean business.

It's not just one of those things you should ignore. Hubby can't ignore it so he's at risk for an accident when your kiddo is doing this. He cannot do it while dad is driving.

We put the obnoxious child behind the passenger seat. This way if he's kicking and stuff he's kicking someone besides the driver. If the driver is alone in the car with kiddo he can move the front passenger seat up all the way and flip it as far forward as it goes. Then kiddo can't reach it.

When we're in the van we can put the middle passenger side seat down and actually put kiddo in the back row. This way he can't reach anything. Letting him know we don't want him sitting closer because he annoys the driver is also a good way to let him know of your disapproval.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Pull over. Tell her you'll start driving again when she's ready to behave.
Or turnaround & go home.
A distracted driver is an unsafe driver.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

The magazine option Nervy Girl recommends is a great option. I get kids that behave like this in my school bus and I have pulled over and taken out a book more than once. I tell them to take their time calming down because I'm in no hurry plus I'm getting paid and they are not. It's fun to see how fast kids make each other behave when they really want to go home after school. I've never had to do this with my own child but I imagine it would work just as well.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I keep a spanking spoon in the car. My girls know I am not afraid to use it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

Different things work for different kids. My son likes to watch for things outside the car. When he was little we would have him look for certain colors of road signs, count trucks, and so on. My daughter couldn't care less about those things, but she's happy as long as there is music playing. She will sing along to just about anything but music is the only way to get through a road trip with her.



answers from Dallas on

Marie C. Has good technique.

You have figured out that he is testing limits. The problem is you haven't showed him what is the limit. As far as he knows, there is no limit.

Don't allow something you know to be dangerous. Stop it before it starts. Stop it just before the being loud and kicking the seat.

Find kid's songs and sing with him to distract him.

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