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My 2½ year-old is a very capable walker, but often he decides he just doesn't want to do it.

Usually, when we go out, he goes in the push-chair. But sometimes he wriggles and screams until we are forced to get him out of it. On these occasions, he always refuses to walk and screams "Carry! Carry!". This can go on for quite a while and escalate into a massive tantrum unless we can find a suitable distraction (or bribe) to get him to go back into his pushchair.

He's been doing this for almost a year now, and we're really out of ideas.

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Not worth an answer, but ... make sure you're not walking too fast... –  Benjol May 16 '12 at 5:33
    
Don't Bribe him, but distractions are sort of par for the course at this age. –  balanced mama Nov 19 '12 at 1:30
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3 Answers

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You've got yourself into this situation by allowing your son to decide. He has learned that he has power over you, and that you will eventually give in to his wishes. Your way out of this situation is simple:

Don't give in. Don't let your son decide.

The way I read your question, the core of your problem really is that he gets what he wants -- that must stop. He must learn that he can't have it his way; that he must do as you say. He must learn that throwing a tantrum no longer works.

This is a transition which he will not like, and it will be stressful for you too. He will pick at your defenses until he finds a gap, so you must remain firm and not give in -- ever! -- because giving in shows him that your new rules are not bulletproof.

Announce that he has become too heavy to carry. (If he isn't right now, he will be soon!) This is a fact and not some vague "I don't want to" response. Tell him he still has a choice - walk, or sit in the stroller. But no more carrying, that's for small babies and he is not a baby anymore.

See the other tantrum-related questions, they might help you.

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I guess you're right. We are trying to do exactly this, and have been for a while. It's just that- well, sometimes you don't have time to wait out the tantrum because you're pushed for time. –  Urbycoz May 15 '12 at 11:50
    
@Urbycoz: pushed for time is something you need to work into your plans. Either start way early, or accept that you'll be late. He'll waste less time as he learns that the new rules are firm, and you can reduce your safety margin. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun May 15 '12 at 13:30
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Firstly, you mention being pushed for time. Is it possible that he doesn't want to walk because he is still 2 1/2 which means his legs are a LOT shorter than yours and he can't keep up and/or tires out a lot faster? If he is walking till he is tired and then put into the stroller, it is a bit like getting a really good work-out and not being allowed a cool down or stretch afterwards. That will not feel good for his GROWING musculature. As a preventative measure, only expect him to walk when you can take your time and move along at his pace. Stop and smell the flowers with him, notice the line of ants carrying food back to their nest, and stop to watch the song bird in a tree.

In regard to wanting out of the stroller, I don't like being belted in very much either - I'd imagine that is part of the problem, especially at the age of two.

If you aren't already, you might try making the stroller a funner place to be. Be goofy with him while you walk. Make the stroller "dance." You can make the ride more fun for him by singing songs, making the stroller occasionally go "crazy" by weaving a little or going extra fast and squealing, "Weeee" and being silly about it. Talk about what you see while you walk, tell your son about where it is you are headed and how you will be getting there. Ask him if he sees the lady with the blue hat, the green sign. . . Play games like "eye spy". Choose an object (that's pretty obvious, because he is two) and say, "Hey, I see something yellow, can you guess what it is?" Once he gets the premise let him be the spier sometimes. Then, if you are in a hurry and need to move along he is more likely to enjoy the stroller along the way.

If it is a day when he really needs to be in the stroller, he REALLY DOESN't want to be and is telling you so, you can acknowledge his feelings but still honor your needs. "I know you want out of the stroller. We have to get to X place, I'll get you out there. That'll be about Y minutes from now."

Then, Like Torben says, don't give in. If he fusses you can just repeat, "It'll only be about Y minutes until you can get out." Try to distract him with a little fun or a game that has worked well. Then when you get to the next location, get him out, give him a big hug, and a few minutes to move around before you move on.

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If you really HAVE to hurry, then scoop him up wordlessly: no talking or yelling or drama.

The rest of the time, remind him in a steady voice that he is a big enough boy to walk now, and just refuse. It sounds callous, but he has to believe you are serious -- and the only way to do that is to warn him that he will not be carried, and then do what you say.

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He may not be big enough to walk from one location to the next yet. Physically learning to walk and learning to walk as a means of focused transportation over distances are actually two different steps developmentally that DO NOT happen close together. –  balanced mama Nov 19 '12 at 1:29
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