For several weeks my wife had asked our 15 year-old daughter to clean up her bedroom and make her bed. "Yeah, yeah, I’ll get to it" was the response, but it didn’t happen. Finally she was threatened with the loss of her cell phone for a week if she didn’t attend to these agreed-upon chores. Two days later, nothing had changed and we took her cell phone away, to her surprise and dismay.
Three weeks later, her bed had been made and her room picked up – every day. A couple lessons are clear here. One, deliver on your threats or they’re meaningless. Two, few things get the attention of teenagers faster than their cell phones.
That strategy proved to be effective in changing behavior for a mundane issue faced by most parents. But there’s a less obvious lesson, one that has far more important consequences.
Although we rightfully worry about things like alcohol, drugs and suicide, the single biggest risk to today’s teenagers is car crashes. The single biggest crash risk to teenagers is distraction, and the riskiest driving distraction is a cell phone. Recent studies have shown that driving and talking on a cell phone (hands-free or not) raises the crash risk four times; other studies have revealed that those who text and drive are 23 times more likely to crash.
Technology will soon make it easier for all of us to manage and monitor cell-phone use while driving. But we have an opportunity right now to shape the habits of our teens, which will also affect their behavior as adults.
So here’s a simple way to dramatically lower your teen driver’s risk: Obtain his or her agreement to never text or call while driving, upon penalty of loss of driving privileges, loss of cell-phone use or both. And while you’re at it, promise not to do it yourself. A good example and a lack of hypocrisy are extremely powerful.
SOURCE: The Chicago Tribune, By Tribune Staff Report October 28, 2009, Timothy Smith, St. Charles.
offers both adolescent intervention and treatment programs. Education, individual counseling, family therapy, group counseling and referral to other resources are all part of a comprehensive effort to prevent or intervene in youth alcohol and drug abuse. Call us at 254-690-4455!