A leading national broadcaster recently recounted her horror at observing that her infant son was imitating her attitude and even language when they were driving together in the car.
She noted that one day when beeping her horn in displeasure at the behaviour of another driver, her son launched a perfect version of one of her standard put-downs – crude language and all!
While this episode may have prompted the broadcaster to moderate her language when driving (at least in the presence of her son!), you can’t help but wonder whether any other element of her practice as a driver changed.
Having realised that her son was paying so much attention to what she did behind the wheel, did she – for example – start to drive with more consideration for other motorists or moderate her general demeanour? Or did she just keep on driving as usual – just without the language?
Before you jump to any conclusions, it should be noted that this is by no means an attempt to denigrate the driving abilities of the broadcaster in question. Rather we are simply highlighting the importance that parents and other role models play in our development.
The importance of positive role models for our personal and professional development is well-recognised in the field of learning. As humans we inevitably subconsciously mirror the behaviours of people who we respect and look up to.
Yet what about when it comes to driving?
Well, as our initial story has indicated the same applies to driving and learning to drive. As drivers our understanding of what is appropriate and inappropriate behaviour on the roads so often comes from the behaviours that we have learnt from our first and perhaps most important role models – our parents.
So if you are a parent perhaps now might be a good time to reflect on your own driving and think about the way you drive and behave on the road is provide a positive or, possibly, not so positive role model to your children.
If they are young then there is no better time to make a change and practice safer and more considerate driving.
Ultimately, safer driving is better for all – for you, your children and society at large – each one of us has an important role to play.