Ah, to be young again; reckless, feckless, and in the middle of a full blown invincibility complex. If the previous sentence describes your teenager, you're probably not thrilled with the idea of letting them slide behind the wheel of two tons of vehicular manslaughter charges waiting to happen. Never fear, teaching a teenager to drive safely and responsibly is simpler than you might think, and there are some hacks you can use to get you both thorough this rite of passage alive. Read on to discover how to survive teaching a kid to drive.
Lead By Example
Teaching your teen to drive safely begins long before they are ready to get behind the wheel. It certainly doesn't feel like it most days, but kids really do pay attention to the example set by their parents. If you buckle up, check your mirrors, walk the circle of safety, and obey traffic laws your teen is more likely to do the same. Setting a bad example in this case is not only poor form, it's also going to put your teenager at higher risk of reckless driving habits.
Having conversations with your child as they near driving age about the importance of safety measures is also helpful. Starting young and talking often about the safety hazards of driving and the responsibility of it helps ingrain caution in your child and will serve them well when they first put those keys into the ignition.
Become a Helicopter Parent
Even if you tend to be more of a "free range" type parent, when your teen starts to drive you're going to need to shift a few gears of your own. Studies show that kids with parents who are involved and firm about driving rules and boundaries have far fewer accidents, perish far less frequently when they do have accidents, and are far less prone to risky driving behaviors. Some examples of important rules to set include:
- No friends in the car. This sounds harsh, but friends are a huge distraction to teens, and the pressure of wanting to impress a friend can result in more dangerous driving behavior.
- Absolutely no cell phone usage in the vehicle. Bonus parenting hack; apps exist that block texting while driving.
- No driving after dark. Distractions, sleepiness and obstacles increase after dark, and the reflexes of a new driver are often not up to snuff.
- Zero tolerance for drinking and driving. This goes for everyone in your family, not just the teenagers.
Consistency in enforcing these rules will go a long way in helping prevent tragedy.
Keep the Goal in Sight
You may get whiplash while they learn not to let the clutch out so fast. You may have several close calls, fender benders, or have to check the tires after hitting curbs. You might clamber out of the car with seat belt marks permanently tattooed into your torso from pulling it so tight. You do all of that with the goal of keeping your child safe as they enter adulthood and become independent. Keeping your temper and maintaining your patience will help you be a successful teacher.
Teaching a kid to drive is hard. It's a bittersweet parenting moment, and it's also nerve-wracking, terrifying, and frustrating. Taking the time to do it properly will help keep your family whole, provide a great bonding opportunity for you and your teen, and benefit your community at large by keeping the sidewalks safe for pedestrians. It doesn't matter if you enroll your child in driving education courses, they still need their parent at this crossroad. Are you ready to be there?
For more information or to enroll your teen in a driving class, consider websites like http://www.a1peckdrivingschool.com.