It was only this January six year old POD secured a place at the local primary – it’s been a long wait! The 18 months prior to that were spent driving to another school which was a two hour round trip on some days. While this time in the car enabled POD to perfect her colouring skills, it was also a great environment for chatting. We’d have the usual kind of discussions with a bit (a lot) of silliness along the way. Sometimes though the conversations we had about school were actually quite revealing.
Coincidentally new research from Renault Scenic has revealed car journeys are seen as the top place for honest or delicate discussions. I found the #BehindCarDoors study, backed by leading family psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos, really interesting. It turns out 54% of the kids involved admitted they’re more likely to speak up when their parents are driving with 40% of parents believing the honesty is down to not being judged. Similarly 60% of parents instigated awkward topics to avoid eye contact with 10% even taking to the car on purpose to get their child to open up!
Given we’re only able to look in the rear view mirror for seconds at a time, the lack of eye contact certainly contributes. Even sitting in traffic the opportunities to glance back are often fleeting moments. POD probably thinks I’m not listening as I’m concentrating on driving but actually this couldn’t be further from the truth. She had a bumpy start to her reception year having started not knowing anyone but she ended it on a real high. We couldn’t have been more proud of her, especially when she got such a glowing report.
Year 1 started really well with POD continuing at the same school. There were some reservations around her new teacher but that was only to be expected. It was different and they had to work harder while they were there too. Initially POD didn’t share too much about her day but over time she really opened up. Had it not been for that journey, I’m not sure we would have known an older boy was bullying her. Not to the same extent anyway. The car became the place for POD to talk about her day and share any worries. This included whether she’d been approached by the boy, what he’d said or done and whether she’d told a teacher. Sometimes she did, sometimes she didn’t. If she hadn’t, because she told me what had happened it meant I was able to speak to her teacher. POD is a positive child with a great attitude but it certainly affected her confident outlook. Of course we talk at home all the time too but there were certainly things shared in the car because POD felt it was a safe environment.
Much to everyone’s delight, POD secured a place at the local primary school earlier this year. She settled in quickly which was a huge relief and she’s loving it. These days she’s able to walk or scoot to school and we chat along the way. Communication is pretty open anyway and POD will often freely share information about her day. She understands it’s good to talk – and believe me she talks! I’m sure that’s down to the days of driving her to school. We still spend a great deal of time in the car though whether it be heading to one of POD’s classes or exploring as a family on a road trip! Either way, the car is definitely the place for a good honest chat.
The #BehindCarDoors research was based on 2,000 UK parents to highlight the importance of family time in the car. To explore this in more detail and put the findings to the test, Renault is undertaking a year long experiment. Dash cam is being used to capture the daily trials and tribulations of Mother Pukka and Father of Daughters as they go about their routine. You can follow the in-car conversations here and do check out this film.