How Can You Overcome Your Teen’s Objections to Wearing a Seatbelt?
Those stubborn teens… Here’s a post about how to get through to them about wearing a seatbelt from Mullen & Mullen Law Firm.
Remember what you were like when you were a teen?
Did you smile and say “yes” and do exactly what your parents said every single time, realizing that they’ve walked your path before and might know a little more than you?
…If only teenage minds worked that way, right?
Or, did you smile and say “yes,” immediately discard what your parents said, and then go and do precisely whatever you wanted?
Maybe you were openly defiant and started arguments with your parents, trying to prove your case to them and why they’re wrong.
Truthfully, your brain doesn’t fully develop until around the age of 25. So, you, and your teenage son or daughter, simply can’t fully comprehend reality until that age.
Well then what do you do when you have a teen who won’t wear their seatbelt, and can’t be reasoned with because they already know everything?
It’s frightening to consider because:
- Just 61% of teens surveyed in 2015 wore seatbelts when they were passengers
- 60% of drivers ages 15-20 were not wearing their seatbelt when killed in a DUI accident
- In 2016, 48% of passengers aged 16-19 killed in crashes were not wearing their seatbelts
Here’s how to get through to your teen:
An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure
Yep. This old cliche certainly holds true with teens. You can talk to your teen until they’re blue in the face on some issues, and it won’t make even the slightest difference.
So when it comes to wearing seatbelts and driving (or riding) safely, reinforce those behaviors well before they’re teens.
Have those talks before they learn to drive. No doubt your child will have these conversations in school.
But they’re even more likely to follow through when you model and encourage these behaviors at home.
If you have a personal story of a friend or family member who got injured or killed in a car crash as a result of not wearing their seatbelt, that can be quite effective too.
Create a System of Rewards and Consequences
Involve your teen in creating this system. Let them choose rewards for wearing their seatbelt and driving safely.
Have them set their own consequences for not wearing their seatbelt (but make sure they’re reasonable). That way, if you have to lay down the law, they’ll be much more likely to accept the punishment.
The Nuclear Option
So you have a teen who is just one stubborn ass about wearing their seatbelt. They don’t want to wear their seatbelt even when riding in your car with you driving.
Don’t argue. Give them a couple minutes to put it on. If they don’t, take your keys out of the ignition and go in your home.
If they continue to fight and argue about this, and they won’t wear a seatbelt when they drive either, ask a local police officer to come talk to them about wearing their seatbelt. Do this unannounced.
Consider other extreme behaviors like showing up to pick them up at school in your pajamas (or whatever might cause public humiliation for them).
You understand the importance of wearing a seatbelt, and your teen’s mind simply isn’t fully ready to.
So, it’s up to you to have the willingness to do whatever it takes for the good of your son or daughter.
You can’t control your teen. But you can take strong measures to greatly reduce their chances of losing their lives because they chose not to wear their seatbelt.
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Shane V. Mullen is an attorney licensed by the State of Texas for the general practice of law, and the Managing Partner at Mullen & Mullen Law Firm in Dallas, TX. His firm focuses exclusively on personal injury law and has been in business for 40 years. Before becoming a lawyer, Shane worked for his father as an accident injury claims investigator.