Changing Level one bad habits is relatively easy. It is
simply a matter of being reminded. Your teen probably isn’t even aware he is
doing these dangerous habits. Focus on immediately changing all of the Level
one habits. Your teen is not likely to resist changing these habits because
there is no perceived benefit. If you constantly remind her with verbal
reminders and notes, she will develop the correct safe habit. Also, while
you are driving your teen, point out how to correctly do something you know
she does wrong. Say something like, “Whenever you plan to make a left-hand
turn onto Main St. you always need to start signaling when you see the
yellow sign, this way the people behind you will know in advance that you
will be turning.” Saying it like this doesn’t seem like criticism to your
teen and she will remember ‘signal at yellow sign.’
Changing Level two habits is more difficult because
your teen chooses to do them because of a perceived benefit.
Your teen is
more likely to be defensive or be in denial about these bad habits. Deal with the
Level two habits one at a time. Look at your teen’s Level two habits and narrow
them down to the most dangerous one.
Steps to Changing Level two Bad Habits:
Identify – Be aware of the bad habit(s).
Isolate – Focus on the worst bad habit.
Motivate – Motivate your teen to stop doing the bad habit.
Change Behavior – Correct the behavior by using a
Positive Reinforcement - Rewards
Negative Reinforcement – Penalties
The rewards and penalties should vary depending on the
severity of the bad habit. You want to pick a meaningful reward to use as
leverage to persuade your teen to stop doing the bad habit. Once she has
corrected the bad habit or hasn’t done it in a long time give her the
promised reward. (For example, give your teen gas money, allowance, let him
go on the spring break trip, keep her part-time job, etc.).
Also, use various penalties each time your teen is
caught practicing the bad habit. (For example, if your teen continues to
blare his music, disconnect his stereo, or if your teen continues to talk on
her cell phone while driving, temporarily confiscate it or even cancel the
plan. Another possible penalty is taking away certain driving privileges
such as driving at night, etc.). Remember to take on these bad habits one at
a time, so you don’t overwhelm your teen with negativity.
It’s not too late to change your teen’s bad habits; help your teen reduce
his risk of a preventable accident