Teaching your teen to drive can be a scary task to say the least. But if you prepare well, practice patience and take things step-by-step, you can do it—without pulling out your last hair!
Tips for Success
As you begin teaching your teen to drive, keep these nine basic rules for success in mind.
- Let your teen tell you when they are ready to learn to drive. Not every teen is ready to learn to drive at 15 or 16. Feel free to bring up the subject but don’t push if your teen seems reluctant. An overly nervous teen driver can be a unsafe behind the wheel.
- Before you begin working behind the wheel, go over basic safety procedures with your teen such as the importance of wearing safety belts, checking rear view mirrors and obeying the speed limit. When you are ready to begin the actual driving lesson, know ahead of time where you are going, what you are going to accomplish in the lesson and how long the session will last. Let your teen know what the plan is.
- The first practice sessions should be relatively short, say, only 15-20 minutes but they should be frequent. Gradually increase the length of the sessions to an hour so.
- Start initial practice sessions in daylight and during good weather. Pick a safe place to start such as an empty parking lot where your teen can practice turning, stopping and reversing. Gradually move to more difficult sessions such as driving at night or in the rain or on side streets in your neighborhood.
- When your teen is in the car, but not driving, reinforce good driving habits by explaining what you are doing.
- Exercise patience. Take a break, if either you or your teen becomes tired or frustrated. Be sure to give your teen specific directions, for example, saying “Come to a full stop here, put on your blinkers and turn right.” Be sure to praise your teen when he or she does something correctly and try to avoid negative comments. After all, this is a skill that your teen is only now developing.
- Correct your teen by asking questions. Rather than saying “You’re going too fast,” try asking “What’s the speed limit here?” Make your teen responsible for making correct decisions.
- Be constantly aware. For a new driver, there’s a lot to concentrate on, what with practicing new skills and trying to be alert for 360 degrees. Help out your teen by watching on all four sides of the car and anticipating any trouble spots.
- Set realistic goals. Don’t expect your teen to master all the skills at once. If you do, you are setting both yourself and your teen up for failure. If you teen has trouble mastering, say, driving in a straight line then it isn’t realistic for him or her to move on to a harder exercise until that skill is learned.
If you practice patience, start slowly and teach your teen to drive in an organized manner, you’ll have taught your teen a lifelong skill, one that he will always be grateful for learning from you. And don’t forget—it all else fails you can pay for driving school or find a responsible family member or friend to help out.
How are you teaching your teen how to drive?
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