Teaching teens how to drive can be a big challenge — and we’re not even talking about parallel parking yet!
Fear can get the best of you and your teen, making the experience more nerve racking than it should be (strap on those seat belts, please). Plus, let’s face it: Do we even really want to hand over the keys to our teenage sons and daughters?
What if they scratch the car? What if they run over the fence, or your not-so-friendly neighbor’s cat?
But yes, you really do want to help your teens learn to drive. With your guidance and help they will be road ready and road safe in time for their test. With that in mind, here are some useful tips that will make life easier for you as your teen takes the wheel.
Simple Advice To Help You Survive Teaching Your Teen To Drive
Start Early, Start Basic
Start early and start with the basics. Take them to a local empty parking lot on several occasions even before they get their permit. Give them a chance to sit behind the wheel, while you explain in detail the rules and safety measures that can prepare them for driving. Also, show them all the different functions of the car. How to turn on the lights, the windshield wipers, the defrost, etc. Have them read about the different types of warning lights in the car manual so that if something pops up, they know what is wrong and don’t freak out. There are a lot of little details we tend to forget and this gives them a chance to get comfortable in the driver’s seat before they ever even think of getting on the road.
Also, make sure they’re paying attention when you drive them to places that are likely to be common on their route when they first start driving. Help them familiarize themselves with roads and typical areas for traffic. This will also just give them a feel for the drivers in their area and what to expect – like driver’s who put their blinkers on in the rain for no reason.
As your teen nears the age when they can get their permit, make sure they are following whatever the process is in your state to acquire their permit as soon as they become eligible. You want them to get as much experience as possible. Plus, it will help ensure that you’re not feeling rushed, so that you can start teaching your teen the basics of driving slowly.
Set An Agenda
Usually, it’s better to tackle one driving concept at a time and to make those initial lessons with your teen behind the wheel short. It will keep you both from getting too stressed out about the whole thing. Mondays, for instance, could be devoted to maintaining the correct distance, while Tuesday could be spent in a car park learning how to park. This way, your teen won’t be overwhelmed by an information overload, and you won’t have to teach them everything all at once.
It’s okay to take your time, as it is in this stage that you will lay down the foundations of the correct way to drive. Make sure to provide corrections or interventions whenever necessary.
However, when your giving them feedback, try your best to stay calm and keep your tone neutral.
One vital tip for parents that experts shared in a Washington Post article is to keep your emotions in check. Teen drivers will make mistakes, and that is okay. Many parents fall into that trap of being impatient and argumentative, which is counterproductive. It will create a tense atmosphere that is not conducive for learning. Be patient.
If you find either one of you starting to get agitated, call it a day and try again later. You don’t want this to become a battle between the two of you and overall you want your child to view the experience in a positive way. This will boost their confidence once they are finally ready to hit the road on their own.
Let them navigate different situations
A driver will encounter a myriad of situations while on the road. One specialist told Medium: “parents should encourage and supervise practice driving in more varied environments”. Go ahead and expose your teen to various driving situations, and show them how to navigate each one correctly.
This should include different kinds of weather, driving on highways as well as neighborhood roads, busy shopping center parking lots, school zones and even different surfaces like dirt roads. One of the things you want to avoid is having a new driver surprised by a totally unfamiliar driving situation and panicking because they’re not sure how to handle it.
This is the one of the best ways to prepare them for any eventuality on the road.
Take advantage of technology
Your teen is most likely technologically savvy, so take advantage of it. Have them download the app Bounce on their smartphone, which we talked about in an earlier post. This app will help you monitor your teen so you can make sure they are driving safely. It’s a great tool for helping your teen to develop good driving habits.
But don’t stop there. Use your teen’s love for technology as a way to help them become a better driver. Believe it or not, that Xbox gaming system that drives you crazy can actually be put to use in a way you’ll feel good about.
Why Driving is Important for a Teen
Now, we understand if you’re a bit concerned about your child learning to drive. But trusting them to take the wheel has many benefits. It will teach them how to be responsible and it is a crucial stepping-stone towards independence. This seems to be increasingly important with this generation, as believe it or not, many of them don’t want to get a driver’s license. But to give yourself peace of mind, it can be a good idea to have your teen sign a new driver contract(provided at the end of this post). That way the ground rules and consequences are clear.
Having your teen get their driver’s license can also take some of the burden off of you, because you won’t have to chauffeur them around everywhere anymore. Added bonus, they can even help transport younger siblings that may lighten up the family logistics nightmare of how you’re going to get everyone where they need to go on time when many have overlapping after-school activities.
Then of course there is one final benefit not to be overlooked, which is the opportunity for your teen to more easily get a part-time job. This can be a great way for them to contribute to their new driver costs (insurance, gas or even a car of their own) and it looks great on their college applications.
Yes, the process of getting your new driver ready for the road can be stressful, but you can do it. These tips will help you out along the way, and in the end it will be more than worth it!
This was a contributed article from Phoebe Grace. And thank you to Driving Essential XE for sponsoring this post and providing a great tool to keep our teen drivers safer on the road while giving parents peace of mind.
Parenting Teens and Tweens can be challenging, but here are some other resources that might help: