Friday, January 25, 2013

Elementary Activities: Seatbelt Strategies

By: Deborah Pace Rowley

Yesterday in Utah we had freezing rains that led to treacherous driving conditions. My cute sister was creeping along our driveway, fully aware of how slippery things were. Nevertheless, her vehicle hit a patch of black ice and slid slowly and agonizingly into our fence and nearly into our neighbor's yard. When I heard about the accident, I was teaching and limited in my ability to communicate with her. Were the kids okay? Was she okay? Was the car okay? Gratefully she wasn't going any faster or her car might have overturned into the neighbor's yard which is 4 feet lower than ours or even worse, into the pond on the other side of the driveway. Miraculously, everyone was fine.

This experience reminded me how important it is that everyone in the car is buckled up. This is an easier problem to solve when all your kids are in car seats or booster seats and you buckle them in before hitting the road. This is a little bit more of a challenge when your children graduate from their car seats and buckle themselves into the car. I remember trying tons of different strategies to make my kids buckle up. From bribing to threatening to nagging, nothing seemed to work long term.

Finally, my kids stumbled onto a solution that seemed to work well for us. I even hear my teenage children reminding each other to buckle up using this old favorite chant. Here is how it works. When my kids get into the car, the first person who has on their seatbelt shouts, "Click-It!" The rest of the family members including mom and dad race to be the next person to have their seatbelt buckled. The second person shouts, "Ticket!" This came from an old billboard and radio ad that reminded people to "click it or get a ticket." Because you weren't the first person to be buckled in, you now got an imaginary ticket. The third person got off even worse. The third person with the seatbelt buckled had to shout, "Jail-time!" They had to go to jail because they didn't buckle their seatbelt fast enough.

But just wait. The fourth person who buckled their seatbelt had to shout,  "Crippled!" This meant that since you didn't have your seatbelt buckled right away, you were crippled in an accident. Nice, right? It gets better. The fifth person to buckle their seatbelt had to shout, "Dead!"

When my kids first came up with this game, I was worried that it was too gruesome. Were we tempting fate by shouting these things? I did like the fact that the chant reminded us of very real consequences if we didn't buckle our seat belts. But more than that, I couldn't argue with the results. Every time we got in the car, my kids were buckled within the first few seconds without me nagging them and we were laughing instead of fighting about seat belts.

I secretly wondered if my son purposefully was last to put on his seatbelt just so he could pretend to be dead every time. But whatever...he was buckled and that is what counted. If you are struggling with your children and their seat belts, this game might do the trick for your family also. Feel free to modify it to fit by adding or deleting phrases so that everyone is covered.
Please buckle up, and safe driving everyone.

(An accident on Utah roads on Thursday!) 

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