Teaching Your Teen to Drive? Here’s Some Help for You and Your Teenager

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Did someone in your home recently get a driving permit?

Did you take the requisite picture in front of the DMV and warn all your friends on social media?

Guess what, that piece of paper means YOU have been given the responsibility of teaching them how to drive.

Are you up for the challenge? 

Because a challenge it will definitely be.

When breaking down all the necessary skills needed to be a competent driver, you’ll realize there’s a lot more to consider than you thought.

But the most important thing to keep in mind is safety. Everything else will come, but safety needs to be a priority…always…and from the very beginning.

To ease you into the frustration of teaching your teen to drive, here are a few things to consider and keep in mind.

Is your child a rule follower or risk taker? Do they get easily distracted? Do they like their music loud? Are they always in a rush? Take these things into consideration as you begin to teach them good habits behind the wheel.

And no matter the act they put on, when your teen starts the car for the first time, they’re going to be nervous.

Their anxiety may cause them to think your helpful advice is actually yelling and criticizing. 

Do your best to watch your tone of voice and remain calm.

Make sure to praise good performance, but don’t be surprised if your teen thinks you’re being sarcastic. As cool as they’re pretending to be, they’re worried about screwing up. 

As much as you’d like to think you’re their driving role model, it’s actually their friends, who happen to be new drivers, as well. Oh, and video games. After all, doesn’t everyone drive like they’re playing the latest version of Grand Theft Auto? 

Basically, your child has no idea what they’re doing. 

But in their mind, one thing is absolutely clear, you’re annoying. But they’ll get over it. 

Things teens find irritating, but you need to still do:

  • Reminding them to check their mirrors
  • Asking if they know the speed limit
    • Yes, they can see you slyly shifting over in your seat to see the speedometer
    • Even though explaining that it’ll take them much longer to reach their destination if they get pulled over by a police officer than if they’d been going the speed limit makes sense to you, to them, it’s more annoying words coming out of your mouth
  • Pointing out the dangers of distractions
    • Changing the music on the radio, eating, rambunctious passengers, interesting things out the window, etc.
    • Cell phones are a major issue
      • Don’t be surprised if your child whips out their phone at a red stoplight, “I’m not actually driving right now, so it’s okay.”
      • All you can do is stress the importance of avoiding distractions, especially cell phones
  • Questioning whether they should have stopped or stepped on the gas for the yellow light
  • Checking if they’re constantly scanning the road and the traffic up ahead

One of the most stressful skills to teach your child, and something most adults still have difficulty with, is learning that when you turn your head, your hands go the same direction. When your teen looks over their right shoulder, the car will probably kiss the side of the road, and their correction will be a dangerous swerve in the other direction. 

So remember: YOU need to remain calm because they’re freaking out.

Driving is a skill that parents have been teaching children for many years – so you can do this! Just be patient with each other – and wear your seatbelt.

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