Teenage Risk Taking and Parental Behavior
This morning, May 10, 2010, National Public Radio ran an important program for all parents about the issue of being a teenager and taking risks. The program can be found at the following URL:
Two psychologists were interviewed for the program and pointed out that it is normal for adolescents to take risks. In other words, through taking risks both with friends or away from parents, teenagers learn a lot about functioning in the real world. However, they stress the idea that there is healthy and unhealthy risk taking.
Healthy risk taking for teenagers includes such activities as taking part in High School sports, stage productions, participation in the orchestra, beginning to date socially and other healthy competitions and programs.
Unhealthy risk taking is represented by such things as driving too fast, drinking and driving and engaging in other types of life threatening behaviors.
A lot of what influences the types of behaviors these adolescents will engage in stems from oberving parental behavior from earliest childhood.
One such example is cell phone texting while driving, an activity that is extremely dangerous and that has resulted in a national epidemic of crashes, injuries and even fatalities. Many or most of these crashes are the result of adult behavior.
It has long been known that children learn through observation. The old saying, "Don't do what I do, what I say," does not hold true. Sooner or later children end up doing what we do.
Therefore, it is important to begin two activities with your children and teens: 1. Speak to them about risk taking and help them learn the dangers of unhealthy risk taking and, 2. Begin role modeling healthy behaviors, such as,give up the cell phone in the car, do not text while driving, do not drink while you drive, etc.
It is never too late to be a healthy role model for your child.
What are your opinions and experiences with teenage risk taking? Your comments and questions are encouraged.
Allan N. Schwartz, PhD.