Recently, National Public Radio had an interesting report on using a positive focus and positive reinforcement on teaching teens to drive – rather than the “don’t do this or that” approach.

The following is an excerpt from the transcript (although I highly recommend clicking through and listening to the full story):

Pediatrician Flaura Koplin Winston is scientific director for the Center for Injury and Prevention at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a public health researcher with expertise in adolescent health and safety. She says scare tactics may grab attention but do nothing to help build the skills needed to actually learn how to drive safely.

The best way to get people to adopt positive behaviors, she says, is to provide positive reinforcement. “It’s much easier to teach somebody to do a behavior, make them feel they can master a behavior,” than it is to tell people what not to do, she said.

“Just think about it with teens,” says Winston. “We’re always telling them, ‘Don’t do this’ and ‘Don’t do that.’ Scaring them about what would happen if they did do that bad thing is not a way to get them to do something good.”

This report is totally consistent with what we know from working with TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) ™.  The approach of focusing on what not to do perpetuates a Victim Orientation in which we focus on problems which fuel fear and anxiety and results in reactive behaviors (or, in the case of teenagers, ignoring the warnings – and ignoring IS a form of reacting!).

Instead, the report is suggesting, it is much more empowering and enduring to teach and reinforce from a Creator Orientation, in which the focus is on the outcome we want (safe driving), tapping into the passion that comes from positive progress and taking the Baby Steps that lead to learning and competence.

So it is with teaching teens to drive, it is (also) with learning how to live as a Creator!


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