Four Ways To Teach Responsibility With Your Teen’s New CarOctober 31, 2019
Your teen is flying around in a metal death-trap, it keeps you up at night. You can’t be sure that your teen will be safe on the road, especially when so many accidents happen every day. But what if you used the car to teach them responsibility that might keep them safe? That’s where we come in. We’ve got you covered with four stellar tips that will make your teen a more responsible car owner and fellow on the road.
Have Your Teen Financially Invested
We think that teens care more about their car when they have chips in the game. Even if money is no obstacle for your family, we still suggest having your teen pay for their own gas and insurance so they know how much owning a car costs. This is great encouragement for them to pick up a job and learn how to budget their earnings. This is also why we suggest that they pay for half of the purchase price of the car. This can help show them that the harder they work, the nicer car they can afford. Match your teen dollar for dollar towards the cost of a new car so they can be proud of the money they saved and feel great about it paying off towards something they’ll love. Depending on what your family can afford, you don’t have to pay it all at once. Try setting up a monthly payment plan from your teenager, and if they break your driving rules or miss a payment, you can take away car privileges.
There’s Value in a Used Car
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 16 and 17-year-olds are 9 times more likely to get into a car crash than adults. Used cars are already broken in, so getting a ding or a scratch is a lot more forgiving to repair than fixing a brand-new vehicle. Another bonus of having your teen drive a used car is that it’s bound to have more mechanical errors than a brand-new car, so your teen will learn about auto maintenance at a faster rate and learn to be more responsible about wear and tear. Especially if they’re paying for damages out of pocket. If your teen drives a new car, they might not learn important lessons about repairs until they’re already out of the house.
Use a Curfew to Teach Management
Having a car gives your teen a taste of freedom that they need to use responsibly. If you say they have to be back home before dinner, they only have a few hours after school to accomplish all of their goals before curfew. This can teach even the most defiant teenagers the consequences of wasting their time. Try to negotiate a curfew with your teen so they can pick up valuable time management skills and begin to prioritize their responsibilities over hanging out with friends or going on long drives. We suggest setting a curfew for dinner and for bedtime so your teen can begin to schedule their day around deadlines. If they miss curfew, you might want to take away their car for a day. If they miss it again, consider taking it away for a week. This way, they will begin to fill their time responsibly and you won’t have to check in every thirty minutes to make sure they’re on top of their schedule. Time management is fundamental to using their freedom wisely.
Tag Along for a Ride
When your teen gets their license, you probably won’t be there most of the time they’re driving. As they get more comfortable with the road, they might be attracted to speeding, cutting off other drivers, or generally disregarding the rules of the road. The last thing you want is for them to mix drinking and driving. To make sure they form responsible habits on the road, join them for a ride every once in a while so you can correct errors like being too aggressive. This is one of the first times your teenager will encounter a set of laws they need to obey, so it’s important that they form the habit of respecting the law.
Try not to nag them because then they will be more inclined to disregard what you say next time they’re driving alone, or with friends. Instead, try to be friendly and say something like, “You’re changing lanes a little too fast. That can be tough on other drivers because they’re focusing on getting out of your way instead of their own driving.” You can also teach them a lesson from your own driving experience to save them from an expensive mistake. As they learn respect for other drivers and the law, they will be more likely to treat other laws responsibly when they turn 18 and 21.
Utilizing these strategies will help to reinforce a sense of responsibility in your teenager. They will care more for their car and learn what it means to be a good car owner. A responsible driver will be much safer on the road, so you don’t have to stay up worrying about your teen.
Four Ways to Teach Responsibility with Your Teen’s New Car
You can’t be sure that your teen will be safe on the road. But you can use the car to teach your teen responsibility that might keep them safe.
Andy Earle is a researcher who studies parent-teen communication and adolescent risk behaviors. He is the co-founder of talkingtoteens.com and host of the Talking to Teens podcast, a free weekly talk show for parents of teenagers.