Drag Racing Rage
Illegal street racing is as old as the automobile itself. However, because there is now more traffic, fewer stretches of deserted roads and more teens who have access to a vehicle, the stakes are higher than ever.
The hard truth is that adolescent thrill seeking is not new or unusual. Teen racers are typical adolescents looking for a rush or they do it because their friends are doing it,” says Vicki Panaccione, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in Melbourne, Florida, who works with children, adolescents and families. “Most teenagers want to experiment with risky behavior because they need to prove themselves and they want to stand out. But the level of thrills escalates as kids are exposed to more and more stimuli at younger ages. They need to keep upping the ante.”
“When you add in adolescents’ sense of immortality, the result can be deadly. At this age, children haven’t had much contact with death,” says Dr. Panaccione. “They don’t think it can happen to them.”
How can you help your child make smart choices? Dr. Panaccione advises talking to your teenager about tragedies like (those) that may have occurred in your community. Use the topic as a springboard to in-depth dialogues about good decision making. If handled properly, she says, such conversations can be effective in helping curb adolescents’ risky behavior. “Don’t lecture or be accusatory, but ask if they or anyone they know is racing,” recommends Dr. Panaccione.
“Sometimes kids get stuck in a dare,” she adds. “Offer them an out. Tell your child that if he is ever dared to do something risky, such as take part in a street race, he can always make you the bad guy by saying, “No, I can’t. My mom will kill me and I’ll be grounded for life,”” suggests Dr. Panaccione.
As published in Family Circle Magazine.
© MMVI Vicki Panaccione, Ph.D.