Teaching a Teen to Drive: 8 Tips for Busy Parents

teaching your teen to drive

Image by State Farm via Flickr (the original was altered)

Kids grow up so fast. One day, you’re changing their diaper.

And before you know it, you’re handing them a set of car keys. Where did the time go?!

It’s scary to think about your teen driving for the first time. So many things could go wrong.

If you’re teaching a teen to drive, you need to know these eight tips.

1. Stay calm.

Teens are perceptive. If you feel anxious, they will notice. Try not to stress too much, because that will only make them more nervous. Take a few deep breathes to calm down when you feel stressed.

2. Be a good example.

Teens learn by example, so you better be a good one. If you run red lights, they will disobey traffic laws. If you drive too fast, they will break the speed limit. If you don’t focus on the road, they will text and drive.

3. Make a lesson plan.

Teens have short attention spans. That’s why I recommend starting with quick and simple sessions. You could start with something as basic as parking the car in an empty lot. You can move on to more complex stuff as you go.

4. Deconstruct driving.

Imagine you’re pulling out of a driveway. This task feels effortless now. It’s actually really complicated. You have to disengage the parking break, put the car in reverse, look out for pedestrians, gently push the gas pedal, and turn the steering wheel. Explain this process step-by-step.

5. Help them stay focused.

Teens are super distracted. They are used to checking their cellphones constantly. Don’t let them do that when they drive. Watch their eyes. Are they on the road? If not, remind them to stay alert. Your teen needs to learn how to anticipate accidents. That can’t happen when their mind is elsewhere.

6. Use positive reinforcement.

Teens can be a bit touchy. If you criticize them, they will get defensive and shut down. At that point, they won’t hear anything you have to say. Don’t make them feel bad for what they did wrong. It’s better to focus on what they did right. If you compliment safe driving techniques, they will turn into habits that stick.

7. Point out potential hazards.

Teens feel invincible. In their mind, nothing can go wrong. That’s not the case on the road. Accidents happen. Make sure they’re aware of common hazards. In downtown areas, ask them to scan the road for pedestrians. On the interstate, ask them to watch a vehicle’s brake-lights so they’ll be ready for sudden stops.

8. Get outside of your comfort zone.

Most parents make a dangerous mistake. They only ask their teen to drive in daylight. They only travel on familiar roads. That’s a good way to start, but you need to be more thorough. Let your teen drive in rain, snow, darkness, and big city traffic.Your teen needs to be prepared for every driving challenge they might encounter.

Talk to me.

Are you teaching a teen to drive? If so, how is it going? Are there any tips that you would add to this list? Tell us in the comments. Click here to share this blog on Facebook so your friends can raise a safe teen driver like you.

Mechanically Yours,

Audra

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