As a parent, challenging moments and hard times are par for the course. But in spite of all the hard work of the early years and the frustration that can come with early adolescence, nothing quite prepares you for preparing your child to drive.
While your teen is probably dreaming of their perfect first car, your mind is firmly set on the dangers that may befall your inexperienced driver on the road.
Worrying won’t delay the inevitable though. Soon enough, your teen will pass their test and be free to experience the open road all by themselves.
That said, there are some things you can do to give yourself peace of mind that you’re giving your teen the best start to their driving life. Here are five steps you can ensure your teen is confident and safe behind the wheel.
Practice Makes Perfect
The age-old adage that practice makes perfect really does apply here. Make sure your teen has lots of practice in between lessons with a licensed instructor. Some teens pass their test with a minimal number of lessons, but that does not mean they are good drivers yet. They need the experience to be able to handle any road situation and make good decisions when they are driving by themselves.
There’s nothing worse than making a new driver feel incompetent when you’re trying to build confidence. It’s your responsibility to give them positive reinforcement that they are capable of driving (and doing it well). Each young driver will have certain hang-ups and issues pertaining to particular elements of driving that you must help them overcome those things in a gentle, non-threatening way.
Furthermore, when you see them hesitate, encourage them to trust themselves. If your young driver does make a wrong move – and they probably will – don’t scold them. Instead, keep calm and let them know how to handle the situation differently in the future.
Expose Them to Different Conditions
One of the most valuable things you can do for your teen is to expose them to a number of different conditions that they may experience on the road. If your teen experiences rain for the first time when they’re driving alone, he or she needs to know what to do and how best to change how they drive.
So, ensure that they have had experience driving in various weather conditions and at various times of the day before you send them off for their driver’s test. Equally, driving on different road types and practicing entering and exiting freeways is also crucial.
Give Them Control
When they’re growing up, your children really rely on you for everything and, for the most part, you’re in control. It’s likely that in the years leading up to your teen’s driving lessons, they have begun making more of their own decisions, but when it comes to driving, they may use you as a crutch.
Conversely, as a parent, you may assume this role anyway, unconsciously taking control away from your teen and not allowing them to make their own decisions.
It’s important you identify this when it happens and relinquish control back to your child. By making decisions and telling your teen what to do, you’re not preparing them to drive confidently alone.
Warn Them of the Dangers
If you watch the news, you’ll be privy to the vast number of crashes which involve distracted teens every single year. The message of safe driving is vital to your teen’s safety on the road, and although they probably hear it at school and on social media, you need to reinforce the importance of having no distractions while driving.
During your practice sessions, encourage them to get into the habit of putting their phone away in the glovebox every time. It’ll help you drive home the message without appearing like you’re nagging or lecturing them.
As scary as it is, your teen will pass their driver’s test sooner rather than later. All you can do is prepare them to the best of your ability to hit the open road confidently and sensibly!
Wayne Miguel has been COO of SignMission since 2015. He’s fascinated by the drop shipping business model and is always up for a laugh about novelty signs! Wayne’s role models include Richard Branson and Mark Cuban.