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Stroller Struggles

For getting around with a toddler, nothing beats a stroller -- at least from a grown-up's point of view. So why do so many kids thrash, howl, and generally make you wish you'd stayed home once you buckle them into one?

"The nature of toddlerhood is to explore," says Dayna Jornsay-Hester, coordinator of the parenting program at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. "There's so much kids this age want to inspect up close, and the stroller keeps them from all of it." Plus, they're eager to put a newly mastered skill -- walking -- to use.

Until you're in a place where it's safe and convenient for your child to amble, here's how you can help her sit back and enjoy the ride:

* Distract her. Point out interesting things around you, such as an airplane flying overhead or a construction crew at work.

* Entertain her. Sing her favorite songs; tell stories; or play games, such as challenging her to spot as many dogs or flowers as she can.

* Put aside some favorite toys and books and bring them out only when she's in her stroller.

* Praise her when she's sitting (relatively) quietly.

* Set her free when you can. She won't fight her confinement as much if she gets to walk sometimes.

* Don't let her out (unless she's hurting herself) when she throws a tantrum. If you stick to your guns, she'll eventually learn that screaming won't get her anywhere -- but the stroller will.

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