How to Punish a Teen for a Car Accident

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Even if your teen doesn't drink and drive, distractions such as a ringing cellphone, text messaging and chatty passengers can result in a serious accident. According to a study by the Allstate Foundation, between 5,000 and 6,000 teens die in car accidents each year, and fatal wrecks are the no. 1 killer of kids in that age group. If your teen has wrecked a car, don't take the incident lightly. Disciplining your teen will teach her to drive more safely and respect the rules of the road. And, most importantly, your discipline may save a life.

  • Take a moment to calm down before handing out a punishment to your teen. If you just found out that your teen totaled your car, you're probably too angry to appropriately develop an effective discipline plan.

  • Find out how the accident happened. Ask your teen for her version of events. If you think she isn't telling the whole story, talk to other people who might know, such as her friends or their parents. Use this information to come up with a fair punishment for your teen.

  • Take away your teen's privileges to drive the car. The length of this punishment should depend on the severity and cause of the accident. For example, if your teen was driving while intoxicated, you might take away the car for a much longer time than if she was distracted.

  • Make your teen pay for the repairs to the car and any other property damage she may have caused. If your teen doesn't have enough money, have her work a part-time job or earn funds by doing chores at home.

  • Take away the item that caused the accident, such as your teen's cellphone or MP3 player, if you decide to keep letting her drive. Only allow your teen to use these things when she's not driving.

  • Ground your teen from seeing her friends or doing an activity, such as watching TV or playing video games. Don't cut off all communication with her friends, though, or take away every possible privilege your teen has. This will just create resentment, which will lead to a host of other problems.

  • Give your teen driving privileges back slowly. You might allow her to only drive to school at first. If she does this successfully without causing an accident or getting a ticket, give her another privilege, such as taking the car out for a special event.

  • Set a driving curfew that limits what time your teen can use the car. For example, you might request that she returns the car before 8 p.m. According to the Allstate Foundation study, more than 40 percent of car accidents happen between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Tips & Warnings

  • It's normal to feel angry when your teen wrecks the car, but don't call her names or insult her character in any way. Doing so can have a lasting, negative impact on your teen.

References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images
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