Kids grow up so fast these days. One moment, you’re putting them in diapers, the next you’re getting them behind the wheel of a car. It can go by in a flash and it’s enough to make any parent feel crazy.
However, your personal feelings won’t change the fact that your child will need to learn to drive at some point in time. When that time arrives, you’ll need to know how to teach your child to drive without being nervous or losing your own cool.
How can you pull off that difficult task? There are a few important things to keep in mind. Read on and we’ll walk you through what you need to know.
Teach the Basics
It’s been so long since many of us learned how to drive. We spend so much time in our vehicles that driving from one place to another has really become second nature. A sort of muscle memory has taken over and we forget about all the little things we’re doing to make our drives smooth and safe.
Before you get even close to the vehicle with your teen, it’s important that you go over the basics again with yourself. Make sure you refamiliarize yourself with everything so that you can properly pass on this information to your child.
That means remembering to talk about: seat belts, mirrors, gears, and all those fancy lights on the dashboard display before you even pull the car out of the driveway.
Once you’re on the road, you’ll want to get to all the basics, and don’t forget to cover parking as well! You don’t want someone getting hit by a car in the supermarket parking lot all because you didn’t cover safe parking practices.
It might even be helpful to re-learn how to drive for an afternoon yourself. Have a teacher or another adult cast you as the student and let them teach you how to drive. They might hit on a few basic things you had forgotten (hopefully in concept, not in practice).
Putting yourself in the position of student driver might also help you get in your teen’s headspace. Remember what it was like to have your parent yelling and freaking out on you in the passenger seat? This can help jog your memory and ensure you give your own kids a better experience.
Let Teens Lead the Way
What is the right age to start teaching your kids how to drive? The legal age for driving across most of the country is sixteen, of course. However, each teen is an individual case and not all teenagers will be ready to learn how to drive at the exactly same age.
Some kids might reach fifteen and not be mature enough to handle the responsibility that driving entails. Others simply might not want the responsibility yet.
Once the time comes where you think your teen might be ready to learn how to drive, broach the topic with them. See how they respond and then, most importantly, wait for them to take the initiative and approach you about learning.
A teenager who wants to learn will take in new information much better than who is being forced into the driver seat. In a worst-case scenario, forcing them to learn before they want to could create an anxious and dangerous driver. Best case, they’ll be reluctant and won’t take in much of what you’re trying to tell them.
If they approach you themselves, it means they want your help and are ready to take on this responsibility. That’s the kind of maturity that all teenage drivers should have and exhibit.
Be a Good Coach
How can you best set up your teen for success while they are learning how to drive? There are a few key things to keep in mind. If you can build a strong environment for your child to learn in, they’ll be more confident and careful drivers—and you’ll be less anxious as a result.
First, remember that you are there as a coach and not a commander. If you can help it, don’t’ scream, scold, or order your teen around when in the car. This is likely to create an antagonistic relationship between the two of you, and possibly between your teen and driving. Yelling or losing your cool with your kids isn’t good for either of you.
Don’t talk down to your teen either. Instead, walk them through all the basics they need to know to operate the vehicle. Then, sit back and let them try to work through it on their own.
Encourage them when they do right and be there to answer questions when they need it. Offer light corrections when needed but try to let your teenager ‘drive’ the learning themselves.
Make sure to give them plenty of heads up when you’re going to give a direction so that they can handle things at their own pace. Instead of saying ‘turn right here now,’ try saying ‘at the end of this block you’re going to take a right turn.’
Kids are new to driving and might not be able to process things at the speed that you are used to. Taking these kinds of things into consideration can help the situation considerably.
Learning How to Teach Your Child to Drive
It can be frightening to get your still young kid behind the wheel of an automobile for the first time. However, it’s an important step. If you can learn how to teach your child to drive without losing your cool, they’ll be one step closer on their way to independence.
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