You’ve been waiting for this day for 15 years—the day your kid can finally drive themselves to the mall or the movies or wherever it is they go these days. Well, almost. It’s going to take quite a few hours behind the wheel before your teen has the skills, awareness and confidence to be road-ready…and they’re clocking those hours with you. Here are a few tips to make teaching your teen to drive a little easier:
“A failure to plan is a plan to fail”—don’t set your kid up for failure. Before taking your teen for a driver training session, plan the route ahead of time. Parking lots are ideal for a first lesson so that a new driver can focus on getting a feel for the car and the multitasking involved in steering, accelerating and braking. For subsequent lessons, choose minimally trafficked routes.
Keep a Calm Tone
Deliver your instructions in a calm tone of voice. Most likely your kid is already a little bit nervous. Yelling, scolding and shouting only increase the tension. Not only does that slow the learning process, it can be distracting, increasing the likelihood of an accident.
Make the Most of Teachable Moments
If your teen driver makes a mistake, have them pull over so you can explain immediately what the error was (and what they should do instead). If you wait for the driving session to end, you and your driver may forget what happened, so the lesson is less powerful.
New drivers are often focused on controlling the vehicle, so you need to stay alert for potential hazards that beginners don’t yet know to look for. If you see something, calmly alert them so that they have time to respond.
Recognize when you’re your teen driver makes improvement as this instills confidence and helps with the learning process.
Be a Better Driver
Your kids are more likely to do as you do, so lead by example. Keep your cell phone stowed while driving. Obey speed limits and road signs. Keep the radio off or tuned to one station when your car is in motion.
Perhaps the most important thing, though—be patient. It may feel like it, but you weren’t born knowing how to drive. Give your kid time and ample practice, and they will learn the skills they need to stay safe, even without you in the car.