Being a parent is a big responsibility. It can be a richly rewarding experience to watch your little ones grow and develop as the years go by, but there’s also a lot of pressure on your shoulders to raise them correctly, answer their questions, guide them through life’s challenges, and share the wisdom and benefits of your own experiences too.
There are many big stages to being a parent, and as your children approach adulthood, you may think that a lot of the hard work is already behind you, but there’s often still a lot of work to be done, and one of the best ways in which you can help your older children take some big steps towards independence is to help them learn how to drive.
This can be a very stressful and worrying experience for many parents. Indeed, a lot of moms and dads shy away from the prospect of teaching their teens to drive altogether, as they worry about doing something wrong or feel that they’d simply be too stressed to be effective instructors, but if you have the right approach and attitude, you can get a lot out of this experience.
It can be very beneficial for both you and your child if you play an active role in the learning process. Your teen gets the benefit of quality time with their parent and a less stressful situation than learning with a stranger, and you get to impart some useful advice and information that could help your teen become a safe, sensible, responsible driver in the future too. Here are some tips to help out with the process.
A good way to deal with any pressure or stress you might be experiencing before teaching your teen to drive is to start off simple. In your first few lessons, you can simply go over the basics, and there’s no need to worry about heading off on highways or exploring real road conditions right away; you can give your teen time to learn all the fundamentals first.
Many parents like to head out to a parking lot first of all, preferably in the evening when few people are around. This lets you have some space for your teen to spend their first moments behind the wheel of the car and learn the basics of how the pedals work, how the steering wheel feels, and so on.
Plan Things Out
Another good method for teaching teens to drive is to truly embrace your role as an educator and take the lessons seriously. Professional instructors don’t improvise their lessons or make things up as they go along; they plan everything out in advance in order to give their lessons some structure and purpose, and you can do the same.
Take some time before the lessons begin to plan out exactly what you’re going to do. The first lesson, for example, could start off with a simple tour of the vehicle and introductions to the various systems and features. You can find example lesson plans and templates online if you need a little help getting started, and it can be very beneficial to have an itinerary in place.
Strike the Right Vibe
One of the best ways to make sure that your lessons with your teen are effective is to get the vibe right. You don’t want your teen to feel too pressured or scared, so you can’t be too bossy, authoritative, or overbearing. At the same time, you can’t be too lighthearted and casual, as it’s important for teens to understand the importance of safe driving.
Try to find the right balance between being an educator and being a parent. You’ll want to provide your teen driver with the guidance and instruction they need to become a safe driver, without making the experience feel too stressful or worrying. Reports have revealed that Nevada is the most stressed out state in America, and if teens feel stressed when they drive, they may be more likely to make mistakes, so try to offer positive feedback and encouragement.
Talk About Safety
Statistics show that auto accidents are one of the highest causes of death in teenagers, and a shocking number of teens get involved in crashes and collisions due to many issues like peer pressure, driving under the influence, behaving recklessly, or a simple lack of experience behind the wheel.
It’s therefore vital to instruct your kids on the importance of safe driving. This should be something that you stress and emphasize in your lessons, always taking time to remind your teen about basic safety fundamentals like checking their mirrors, making use of signals, always buckling up, never driving after drinking, and so on.
Be Adaptable to Your Teen’s Needs
Every teen is unique, with their own personalities, characters, and attitudes, and you can really get a sense of what sort of person your teen is growing into when you start taking them out for those early driving lessons. Some teens will be very sure of themselves and confident, while others will be quite nervous about driving.
It’s important to respond to the needs of your child and adapt your approach accordingly. If they’re very confident, you might need to rein them in a little without being too strict or authoritative in your approach, and if they’re cautious and anxious, they might need additional positive reinforcement and assistance from you to build up their confidence levels over time.
Teaching a teen to drive can be a really big challenge, and it’s no surprise that so many parents try to avoid or delay this process by any means necessary, but it’s important to see this stage of parenting as an opportunity, rather than a challenge. See it as a chance to give your teen a great start to their driving life – an opportunity for you to give them the skills and techniques they need to stay safe and protect their own families in the future too.