Every parent dreads it: the day your teen starts driving. Letting your child become a driver can feel out of control and scary. Teaching your teen to drive may not always be fun, but there are ways that you can make it more successful.
As a new driver’s parent, you have a unique opportunity to give them a basis for staying safe on the road. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you help your teen get used to driving:
Start with the basics
In teaching just about anything, it can be easy to forget just how little your student knows. Remember that the little things like turning on your headlights or looking before you turn probably won’t be your teen’s first instinct. It might help to start off your lesson in a parked car to go over all the basics before you start moving.
Plan your route
Just like you should start your teen off with learning the basics, you should start them off driving in an easy setting. Find a quiet road during the day where they can get comfortable behind the wheel rather than directing them to the highway right off the bat. Plan for where you are going and give directions early so that your teen has time to make decisions. From there, you can build up to the busier roads.
Be their eyes
Your teen isn’t used to constantly being aware of all parts of the car. While they are learning how to be safe and to watch what is around them, you will need to be their eyes for a bit. Be aware of your surroundings just like you would be as the driver while your teen gets adjusted to their responsibilities.
Feedback in the form of questions can be a great way to let them take control. When they are getting ready to change lanes, ask “Do you see anyone in your left-hand blind spot?” If they’re going a little too fast, try “What’s the speed limit?” Questions will help you lead your student while encouraging them to problem-solve and be aware of their surroundings.
While you won’t be able to control everything your teen does behind the wheel, this learning period is critical to creating an expectation for safety. As the teacher, remember what your teen doesn’t know. Help them get a good grasp on the basics and the importance of safety behind the wheel so that you can feel a little better about sending them off on their own.