Many of us remember the excitement of getting our first learner’s permit or finally getting our driver’s licenses. While some teens might need to overcome some reluctance to learn how to drive, it’s an important life skill and rite of passage.
Teaching your teenager can be anxiety-inducing. There will be a lot of time spent driving aimlessly around empty parking lots and slamming on the breaks down quiet streets. However, teaching teenagers how to drive doesn’t need to be terrifying or stressful for parents. Remember, you want them to learn to be a safe and responsible driver. It’s an essential skill that teens should master. Who better to learn from than you? Here are a few tricks on teaching your teen how to drive without losing your mind:
Begin In An Empty Lot And Progressively Add Skills
Giving your teen lots of space to learn allows them to build skills in a safe area. Not only are you providing physical safety by taking them off the road before they’re ready, if it’s their first time behind the wheel you’re adding a sense of security as well. At first, it’s incredibly common to confuse the gas pedal for the brake or to misjudge how soon you should start a turn. Don’t risk having your vehicle in traffic or taking the chance to hit a curb, fence, or even another person.
Depending on your teen’s personality, they may be anxious about driving in the beginning. They may need a lot of time driving around the empty lot in order to gain enough confidence to tackle driving down a quieter public road. It may take a few days, or even a few weeks to make the jump. Some teens need an even more introductory behind the wheel experience at first, such as just sitting behind the wheel for a while with the vehicle turned on. Others may want to feel what it’s like to rev the engine while the vehicle is in park, or just practice shifting gears. Gauge your kid’s comfort level and make a plan of action based on what you think is best.
Maybe you had good intentions at first, going out 2-3 days a week to practice driving. Then life got in the way and before you know it, it’s been a month without any time behind the wheel. If this sounds familiar, you’re not doing your teen any favors. Your teen will have to become re-accustomed to turning, signaling, and using the gas pedal.
Try to practice driving as frequently as you possibly can. The more practice your teen has, the easier it will be to move along to new driving skills at a much faster pace.
Use More Than One Teacher
Everyone learns to drive in their own unique way. Whether you learned from mom and dad, another family member, or a driver’s ed teacher, you picked up on certain driving skills depending on how you learned from.
Maybe you feel comfortable teaching your teen how to parallel park, but not navigating a round-a-bout. Someone else may feel more comfortable with a skill that you don’t or have a better way of teaching it. It might be that your teaching style and strategy don’t necessarily mesh well with your teen’s learning style. In this case, they would immensely benefit from a few lessons from someone else.
It’s all about balance and practice in order to learn all the skills your teen needs. If you really don’t feel comfortable teaching a certain skill, check out a driving school where your teen can learn from a professional instructor.
Check Your Ego And Emotions At The Door
Whether it’s you or your teen, if any crying, whining, cussing, or yelling begins, it’s time to stop and go home for the day. If you or your teen are being emotional, your teen is not going to be able to drive safely, nor will you be able to give constructive advice. Again, if something with you and your teen isn’t clicking, don’t be afraid to rope in someone else to teach or consider taking them to driving school.
Your teen is going to make mistakes, it’s inevitable. They are going to confuse the turn signal for the windshield wipers, put the vehicle in the wrong gear, or hop a curb. If you’re not putting your teen in situations that they are not prepared for, just know that mistakes are going to happen and it’s OK. Make sure your teen is able to tackle basic driving skills such as stopping, backing up, and parking. Before you know it, they’ll be ready to attempt busier highways, or driving in the dark or bad weather.
Be sure you also talk to your teen about the dangers of distracted and reckless driving, as well as your expectations for using the family vehicle. If you are looking into purchasing a new or used vehicle (there are options for auto loans for bad credit) for them, you’ll need to lay down some rules for using the vehicle as well.