I’m sure we’re all dreading it, but the day has come: It’s time to teach your teen how to drive. This can be an intimidating task full of a variety of emotions: stress, anxiety, and the sentimental emotions come with the person who was once your little girl or boy now growing up and taking on the independence of finally driving on their own. This lesson can easily move in a negative direction if you let it, but have no fear. Here are six ways to make this an easier task for both you and your teen:
1. Learning the basics. To begin, let your child sit in the passenger seat and go through the motions. First, take them for a drive around the block and explain to them what to look for (signs, speed limit, signals, etc.). Show them how to merge onto the highway, clarify more difficult signs and lights, and have them pay attention to the motions as you show them the rules of the road.
2. Explaining your actions. When you go for a drive and they sit up front next to you, explain why you do the things you do. Whether it’s looking over your shoulder before switching lanes, how you’re turning the steering wheel, or how to parallel park, provide a running commentary and then quiz them about it later.
3. It’s test time! Before taking their actual driving test, test their knowledge in the car. Do they know the signs? Can they remember the speed limit? Is this a one-way or two-way road? Go over the various rules of the road and see what they excel at and what could use a little work.
4. Start in a parking lot. Let them begin their first actual driving lesson in an empty lot with little distraction and where they won’t have to deal with other people moving about.
5. Let them take the wheel. It’s scary, but it’s time. Remember to be patient and start off slow (the highway probably isn’t the first place you should go). Don’t forget to wear your seatbelts and keep your cell phone fully charged in case of emergency.
6. Practice makes perfect. Do it every day, as it’s the only way they are going to get any better. Plus, the more they’ve driven with you, the more comfortable you’ll be when they are driving solo out on the road.
Teaching the teen who used to be your little boy or girl to drive is both a scary and exciting to drive, but by following these tips, you’ll feel more comfortable with them out on the road…and so will they!