As a parent, there are few things more potentially terrifying than the idea of your child driving a car. To increase their chances of safety and to keep your fears in check, the best approach is to make sure that they are fully prepared before they hit the road. Whether your child is taking drivers ed with a professional instructor or you are showing him the ropes yourself, there are things you can do to improve your young driver’s knowledge and skills.
As your youngster approaches driving age, steer the conversation toward driving whenever the two of you are in the car together. Explain what you’re doing and why and encourage their questions. This dialogue will help your child when they take the controls. One of the trickiest things about learning something new is that you don’t know what you don’t know. Discussing driving now will give your teen a framework before they get hands-on with the car.
Once your teen has acquired their permit and you trade seats, remember that they are sure to be uncomfortable at first. Don’t put them in situations that will add to their stress. Keep calm and set clear expectations for each driving session. Use the following tips to help you as you begin this new journey with your teen.
Before You Hit the Road
Provide warm-up time in a safe area. Don’t do a quick seat swap at a red light and expect your new driver to jump right in. I tried that with one of my kids and she still hasn’t forgiven me. Instead, start the odyssey in an empty parking lot. Spend a little time going over basic equipment such as headlights, windshield wipers, and the proper adjustment of mirrors before putting the car in gear. Allow your teen to get a feel for how the car handles while practicing simple skills like turning, starting and stopping. Keep these early sessions as simple as you can. The driving task contains a lot of moving parts. Because of your experience, all these little details are second nature to you, but they are not to a new driver.
Once you are confident of your child’s ability to maneuver the car safely, move the session out onto the road. It may help to have a preplanned route and list of skills you want them to practice. Whenever a mistake happens, and it will, don’t look at it as a setback but as a learning experience. If the mistake is big enough to pose a safety issue, calmly ask your teen to pull off the road to a safe parking place for a debrief. This will give you the opportunity to discuss what happened, what the consequences might have been and how to avoid such an incident in the future.
As both of you become more confident, add more advanced skills to your practice sessions. Be sure to maintain a positive dialogue before, during and after each little road trip. There’s no putting off the fact that one day they will be flying solo but, if you plan your sessions well, it will allow you to one day watch them pull out of the driveway alone much more calmly.
If your child is in need of drivers ed, may we suggest one of the convenient online courses offered by ApprovedCourse.com? They are an affordable and convenient way to take that first step to getting your teen behind the wheel.