6 Tips When Teaching Your Teen to Drive
One of the greatest joys (and responsibilities) of being a parent is passing on life skills to young ones. It is fun, but at times it could be nerve-wracking. Teaching your teens to drive is one particular task that often falls in the latter category. If your teen has just crossed that licensable age, they will not let you rest until they learn how to drive and get their license.
Of course, it’s easier (but more costly) to work with a professional instructor. It also means you will miss the opportunity to bond and create shared memories. Do you want to tighten your relationship with your teens as you teach them how to drive?
Here are six tips that’ll help you stay out of trouble, remain calm, and pass on best practices in driving.
1. Get a Learner’s Permit
Most states require a learner’s permit for student drivers. A teenager with a learner’s permit is a lower hazard than one without. Holders will have some driver’s education and can explain what to do in different traffic situations. The permits also specify when the student can practice driving and allows them to do so only when supervised by a licensed driver.
2. Prepare Space; Lots of Space
A first-time driver can misjudge when to turn, hit the gas instead of the break, and make many other mistakes. You don’t want to practice driving where there are other vehicles or obstructions. Get an open space that gives room for such goofs.
You will also need to create such a space in your mind. Your teen could be anxious about driving and may need more time behind the wheel. Work with them in such a case, and help them build confidence. Getting them insurance for the first time will give you and your child some peace of mind.
You may also need some space. In case you are anxious about your teen driving and could be tense and snappy, allow yourself time to calm down. When you relax, your body language changes, and you will notice that it is easier to give instructions.
3. Keep Emotions in Check
As mentioned above, it is easy to get nervous when a teen driver has wheels. The student could also be anxious – a recipe for an emotional breakdown during the lessons.
If you notice any yelling, whining, or tears (either yours or the teen’s), it’s time to take a break. People learn best in a calm and composed environment.
A student driver cannot focus and is likely to make more mistakes when they are jumpy or overwhelmed. In the same way, if the instructor is not level-headed, they cannot give clear instructions and constructive feedback. Plan to take breaks during the sessions and do something that calms your nerves.
4. Expect “Oops” Moments
Give your teen a break. Of course, they will bump the curb, turn the wrong signal, make an incorrect gear shift, and many other goofs!
Just make sure that both of you are buckled in, and don’t put them in situations over their heads. They need more practice and to get comfortable with the basics, like moving forward, practicing steering, and stopping the vehicle, before taking on more challenging maneuvers.
Adopt a new mantra: ”You are doing great. Try again!”
5. Consider Multiple Tutors
Driving lessons are excellent opportunities to bond with your teen. However, if you are the only tutor, the student could mimic you. They could become confident in skills you are proficient in and less adept in areas you are not so sharp.
Put in some variety in their learning by allowing other tutors to contribute and train the student. You may disagree with your counterpart, but the student will get variety and a balance of skills.
6. Remember That Practice Makes Perfect
Driving is a motor skill, just like walking or swimming. The more you practice, the better you become. On the other hand, if you stop practicing, the skills will wane.
Many parents make time for their teen’s driving lessons. But after the teen gains their license, parents often don’t provide practice opportunities. Without frequent practice, the newly licensed drivers eventually spiral to square one.
Don’t allow this to happen to your teen. Give them plenty of practice opportunities – several times a week if possible. After all, it is an opportunity to bond, not just at the dinner table, and they will improve. Soon, you will not have to supervise them anymore.