Becoming a parent is an exciting and wonderful moment for many people, but it also represents a major shift in the course of your life; from the moment your baby is born, you have to accept a whole host of new responsibilities, and even as they grow older and become more independent, you’ll still be called on again and again to help, guide, and support them.
One of the biggest responsibilities that many moms and dads eventually have to handle is when their teenage children inform them that they’d like to learn to drive. This is a common occurrence, and many high school students look forward to the day they can get behind the wheel of their very own car and enjoy a newfound sense of freedom and independence.
For many parents, the very thought of your little boy or girl suddenly driving a huge chunk of metal along the road can be quite an intimidating one, and it’s quite normal for moms and dads to feel stressed and anxious about this experience. However, if you approach it the right way, you can give your teen the benefits of your own experience and teach them to drive safely and sensibly.
One of the best ways to reduce the risk of your young driver ending up in accidents or heading out on the roads without being fully prepared is to make sure you take their driver’s education as slowly and patiently as possible.
There’s no need at all to rush through this process, and even if your teen seems like a great natural driver, you still need to cover all the basics and gradually progress from one step to the next. Start off by visiting an empty parking lot to let your teen understand the vehicle’s functions in a safe environment before even thinking about getting on any roads.
Be Attentive and Alert
Even if you’re just sitting in the passenger seat while your teen drives around an empty parking lot, it’s important for you to remember your role and assume your responsibilities in this situation: you’re the teacher, and you need to act like one.
Make sure to remain attentive and alert at all times. Don’t look at your phone, let yourself get distracted, or simply sit back and casually guide your teen around. Keep your eyes on the surroundings at all times, ready to take action at a moment’s notice if any hazards arrive. Not only will this help you stay safe, but it will also reassure your teen and help them feel protected.
Emphasize the Importance of Safety
Too often, teens approach driving as a fun new hobby or exciting activity, focusing more on the thrills of the experience and looking forward to being able to drive their buddies around or show off their new car to the other kids at school.
It’s up to you to make sure your child knows the significance of safe driving and understands the real risks they can face on the roads. Share the benefits of your own experience and repeatedly remind your teen driver of the importance of wearing a seatbelt, checking their mirrors, following the rules, and so on.
Trust Your Instincts
Many parents might find themselves at a point where they start to wonder if their teen is ready to drive alone and ready to take their test, and the key to answering those questions is often to listen to your instincts.
Every parent has an innate need to keep their kids as safe as possible, so you should be able to naturally feel whether or not your child is truly ready, based on your observations and experiences. If you feel they still make mistakes, still tend to get a little panicked in certain situations, or haven’t quite understood everything completely, take some time to go over the basics again and don’t let them drive alone until they’re absolutely ready. They’ll thank you for it in the end.
Cover All the Bases
When teaching your teens to drive, it’s important to make sure you think of absolutely everything and leave no stone unturned. You can actually find teen driving checklists online that you can use to make sure you’ve covered all the bases.
From understanding what all the buttons and pedals do to reading the meaning of every single road sign, knowing how to merge into traffic, understanding the importance of keeping a safe distance from other drivers, and more, there are a lot of things to learn about driving. Take your time and cover everything so your teen never finds themselves unsure about what to do.
Teaching a teen to drive can feel like quite a challenge, but by following these tips and keeping the focus on safety at all times, you can give your young driver the best possible start.