Fighting and goofing around are distracting to the driver. It is also dangerous for the drivers to be upset and yelling at their passengers. The best thing to do is develop a strategy for safe driving.
When my kids were young, we spent a lot of time driving from one activity to another. We lived several miles from most activities so there was lots of time spent in the car. When they would fight or noisily goof around, I found it distracting. Yelling didn’t work, and besides I hated yelling and nagging at them.
I decided to stop trying to make them stop. I developing a strategy. I told them it was not safe for me to drive when there is fighting going on. I told them I would pull over to the side of the road as soon as it was safe to do so and wait until they stopped. They didn’t believe me, but I knew they wouldn’t until I followed through on what I had said I’d do.
So I began to do it. At first it happened quite a lot. I kept my word – I pulled over as soon as it was safe to do so and waited until they quieted down. In the beginning it seemed like a game to them. I was careful to keep my body language neutral and matter-of-fact, no eye rolling, no heavy sighs, no tense clipped speech. One time, they took a particularly long time to quiet down. So instead of “losing it” I stepped out of the vehicle and stood beside it. I never left the boys alone in the vehicle. When they finally quieted down, I got back in the car and without saying a word, started driving again. They didn’t like just sitting in the car and not getting where they were going whether it was school, soccer or home. So they started quieting down sooner. Eventually, when they realized I was slowing down to pull off to the side of the road, they would quickly quiet down. Without saying a word, I would pull back onto the road and speed up.
Somewhere along the way, it became a non-issue, without anyone discussing it. Being noisy in the car just seemed to hardly happen at all.
This was accomplished without me yelling, getting upset, reasoning, pleading, nagging, threatening, guilt-tripping, being impatient or getting angry. Having a strategy really helped me remain calm. I felt in control of the situation in a way that was positive for the boys.
It may take some time for the plan to take effect so be prepared to be patient. The plan may even have to be tweaked a bit.
The same strategy used with an angry negative delivery could turn into a power struggle. This could make the dynamics between all persons involved worse.
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