Is it about time to teach your teenage son or daughter how to drive?
This is when most of us parents lament about how quickly time flies – because it does.
But now isn’t the time for reflection. We’ve got a lot of work to do. And if you thought teaching your child to ride a bike was a pivotal moment, this one is even bigger.
So, let’s get serious and start teaching these teens responsible driving habits.
How to teach a teenager to be a responsible driver
There are many steps to this process, and it all begins with you. If you want to teach your teenager to become a responsible driver, follow these steps.
Teach your teen about the rules
There’s a reason why the process starts with getting your learner’s permit instead of jumping straight to the licensing. And your child will likely learn some of this in driver’s education classes, but it’s too important to leave to chance. Make sure your child takes this seriously and use every opportunity you have to reinforce the rules of the road.
This includes things that most driver’s completely forget, like the proper time to put on your blinker or when it’s okay to pass a school bus. It may involve some brushing up on the rules yourself, and that’s okay.
Lead by example
You may have guessed this part was coming, but before you even let your child behind the wheel, it’s important to reinforce good driving habits yourself. Make sure you’re always using your blinker, and above all costs, avoid distracted driving.
From the time your child is very young, he or she will pick up on your habits. So, start watching your ways as early as possible. Especially if you have road rage, it’s time to shift your own habits.
We always tend to think we’re invincible ourselves, but imagine your child doing all the things you know you shouldn’t. It’s a little scary, isn’t it? It’s also very likely to happen. Children learn through your actions more than they learn from your words.
Practice in all conditions
Start by teaching your teen to drive in the nicest of sunshine-y days. But once he or she gets the hang of that, you’ll want to up the ante. And for this, you’ll need a safe car to handle all road conditions.
Gradually move your sessions to days when it’s drizzling. And then move on to heavier and heavier rain. Just be sure your teen is comfortable with each driving condition before you move forward. And be sure to coach him or her on the best practices to use in such conditions (brush up on them if you don’t know yourself). The final step will include driving in snow, if it gets snowy in your area. If it doesn’t, or if you’re teaching your teen in the summer, be sure to cover all the tips for safe driving in the snow. And if at all possible, take that first snowy drive with your teen – even if they already have their license.
Know when to call in a pro
Let’s be real for a moment. Teaching your child to drive is not for the faint of heart. We’re not all built for it. So, if you find that you’re getting extremely anxious during driving sessions, know that you have options.
Any anxiety you’re feeling will be transferred to your teen, regardless of how cool they play it. And these are formative moments that will impact their relationship with driving for a lifetime (no pressure).
So, if you’re freaking out inside and it’s impacting your ability to teach your teen to drive, hand the job over to someone else.
If there’s someone else in your inner circle who can handle the job with patience and ease, that’s a great option. If not, don’t be afraid to call in the help of a professional.
Professional driving instructors teach teens every day, and they have a brake on their side of the car, so they remain in control. Let’s face it; you’d be a lot less anxious if you had a brake on your side too.
How do you feel about teaching your teen to drive? Are you ready for this?