When your child gets behind the wheel for the first time, you’re likely more nervous than your teen. The following tips will help you keep your sanity by ensuring both you and your child are as prepared as possible.
Tip #1: Develop a plan
The first big decision relative to your teen’s driving career is whether to opt for the traditional, in-person driving school experience or an online version. In-person driving schools typically prepare your teen for both the written and the actual driving test. Online driving schools help more with the written test, but they also provide you and your child with valuable information and resources to aid in the learning process. If you’re looking for increased flexibility, online driving school is the way to go.
Tip #2: Stay calm
When you’re practicing with your teen, try not to get frustrated. Your criticism will stress your teen out, which will likely be reflected in their driving. Remain calm, constructive, and collected, no matter how tempting it may be to grip the sidedoor. Your teen will learn in due time, just as you did.
Tip #3: Set a good example
You’ll want to make sure you’re setting a good example as a driver. Your teen will have a heightened awareness of the rules of the road after undergoing their drivers’ education and will be more perceptive of any bad habits. In particular, be sure to limit the use of your mobile phone. According to a study by Aceable Driving and Texas A&M Transportation Institute, teens learn distracted driving habits from their parents. If you’re comfortable with using your phone in the car, your teen will likely think she can do the same.
Tip #4: Encourage financial responsibility
Whether you choose to get your teen her own car or not, make your child financially responsible for some aspect of the vehicle she will be using. For example, having your teen pay for her own insurance provides an incentive to drive safely, as she knows getting a ticket would make that payment even more expensive. Another possibility includes having your teen pay for gas, which also helps foster an awareness about the money involved in owning and maintaining a car. Ultimately, driving is your teen’s privilege, and she should know she must follow your rules to keep this privilege.
Tip #5: Expect the unexpected
Before your child goes out on her own for the first time, never hesitate to stress the basics. In the case of hail, thunderstorms, or heavy rain, encourage your teen to pull over into a safe location. Be sure she also knows what to do if she is met with a flat tire or otherwise dysfunctional car. If she’s not familiar with car maintenance, be sure she at least knows where to find the insurance card and the number for roadside assistance.
Tip #6: Start small
Try starting off by allowing your teen to drive to nearby locations, such as a fastfood restaurant, or even just around the neighborhood. These shorter trips will help build up both your child’s confidence and your own. Be strategic in choosing the time of day of these trips, so that your child doesn’t get stuck in rush hour.
Tip #7: Set boundaries
You also want to be clear on your policy on having friends in the car from the onset. Friends may turn up the music and otherwise distract your teen simply by talking. Certain states even prohibit teen drivers from having other teens in the car until they’ve had their license for a particular period of time.
Your teen lacks the same experience and intuition as you and other drivers, so your guidance and advice during this time is important. Although it will still certainly be difficult, letting go will become much easier by following the aforementioned tips.