As your child grows older, the dangers they may face each day change. When they are a toddler, your worries may revolve around making sure they don’t eat small toys, but as a teenager, your child is beginning to go out into the world. While this is a fundamental part of growing up, it’s only natural to worry about the new dangers this could bring.
This is especially true if your teen drives, even if not every day. Driving is an essential part of daily life in many US states, and while it opens many doors for your teen, road accidents are all too common. More and more of these accidents happen as a result of texting and driving; it is estimated that 25% of all road accidents are currently caused by texting while on the road.
This is a scary statistic, but it is one that can be avoided. In fact, you can take many steps at home to ensure your child doesn’t fall into the same trap. Read on to find out how.
Make use of resources
The internet has abundant statistics on texting and driving, but it is also full of helpful tips parents can use while educating their kids on this danger. For example, you can show your teen resources and what to do if an accident happens, or you can join an online community to learn tips from other parents.
These resources can take the form of blogs, videos, or forums- just make sure the information you are reading has come from a reputable source. To avoid turning these resources into a lecture, try introducing them to your kids in a more casual setting, so they can learn on their own. Remember to always be open to questions, but also to reassure your child when they worry.
Lead by example
Whether they like it or not, teenagers learn much of their behavior from their parents. They’re unlikely to listen to your tips on texting and driving if you aren’t practicing them yourself. Make sure not to use your phone for calls or texts unless it is linked up to a Bluetooth speakerphone system. If you are expecting an urgent call, pull over and stall the engine.
The more your kids see you acting responsibly on the road, the more likely they are to take that behavior with them through life. If they repeatedly see that you are texting and driving without consequence, they might think they can get away with doing the same, and they could become complacent when they begin to drive.
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It’s true that your teen will learn many valuable life lessons as they get older, but much of what impacts us in life happens while we are young. Just as with learning languages, it’s best to start early when teaching your kids about road safety. They may not be teenagers yet, but many parents will know how hard it is to teach a teenager when they are going through their rebellious stage.
The important thing to remember here is that road safety doesn’t need to be ominous. Using picture books or animated videos, it’s easy to instill valuable safety lessons. If your teen has passed this stage of life, why not get them involved in local groups to learn more in a less intimidating environment?
Maintain open communication
Teenagers often make mistakes. While these can be concerning for any parent, you need to choose the right way to react, so they don’t make the same mistake again. This is true even with more serious ones, like texting and driving. If you learn your teenager has been texting behind the wheel, try not to react with anger. Instead, sit down and talk with them about how it happened. Let them know this behavior is dangerous and illegal, and how it can cause harm, not just to them, but to other people. Then, go on to point out some accessible resources they can use.
If you keep communication flowing without judgment, your child won’t be tempted to turn away from you if anything happened to them or a friend. Instead, they will know they can come to you and that they can trust you. If your teenager is caught texting and driving regularly, and there are darker issues showing through, it may be time to look into professional methods to address any behavioral issues.
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Preparing for the worst
No parent wants to imagine their child in a road accident, but it is useful to know how to deal with it if something like this were to ever happen. From making sure you have ample vehicle insurance in place to contacting the right lawyer should legal action happen, there are various ways you can minimize the impact of texting and driving.
By no means should these preparations stop you from teaching your teen to drive safely, but they will give you peace of mind.