One of the most challenging aspects of raising children is knowing when to loosen the reins. There are only a few situations where this is more relevant than teaching your child how to drive.
Driving is a dangerous activity that you likely engage in daily. However, you likely remember how scary it was when you were learning several years ago.
Your child is no different and they don’t have the experience or knowledge to make good driving decisions. Making use of essential practice tests that cover all topics is a good starting point for learning, but there’s much more to teaching your kid how to drive.
To make the process a little easier for you, we’ve outlined five great tips for teaching the skill of driving to your child below!
Emphasize the Importance of Studying
One of the most critical things you can do is to emphasize the importance of studying.
Each state has slightly different traffic laws and this means a different driving handbook. Your child needs to fully understand the handbook and its contents for your specific state.
The driving handbook for your state is sure to be lengthy and dull. Your child certainly isn’t going to want to read this because they’ll feel like they have enough studying to do for school.
Nonetheless, they need to learn the information found in a driving handbook. You can teach them all the information that you want, but they won’t retain it all.
Furthermore, the knowledge you have may be outdated or not perfectly matching to what is found in the handbook. Your wisdom involves practical driving experience and this isn’t always reflected in a driving test.
Your child needs to learn how to drive in two senses. One for how the road operates and another for how it should theoretically work.
The reason for this is that they’ll be tested on the theoretical aspect of driving. This is what should be happening, but doesn’t always occur in real life.
Studying is tedious, so break it up into chunks and start small. Don’t overwhelm your kid and send them running in the other direction!
Practice in Different Situations
When you take your child out to practice driving, you want to vary the situations that they drive in.
This doesn’t mean that you should dive right into driving in the rain at night. While that is important, you should again start small.
It’s best to begin in a forgiving environment, like an empty parking lot. Once they seem to master driving without any real risk, you should slowly incorporate different situations until they learn how to navigate them as well.
You never know what to expect as a driver, so you need to be prepared for every scenario. You can’t always be there to help your child, so the best you can do is give them as much as guided experience as possible.
A few scenarios to practice include driving at night, in the rain, in the fog, during heavy traffic, and in good weather. The better prepared that your child is, the less you’ll worry when they’re alone behind the wheel!
You should also heavily encourage constant awareness.
One of the toughest skills to learn as a new driver is being able to fully take in your surroundings. This is necessary for you to understand what is around you and what might pose a risk.
When you’re first learning to drive, there is so much information to take in. From learning how to operate the vehicle to understanding traffic laws, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Because of this, your child might not have a good awareness of their surroundings. To combat this, you can prod them to be more aware.
This is possible by asking questions about the environment and giving friendly pointers. Be careful to avoid backseat driving, or more specifically, passenger seat driving!
Maintain Your Composure
Another critical tip is to make a point of maintaining your composure.
The way that you react to your child’s driving has a drastic response in how they feel and their confidence. These are two highly important elements of driving.
When you’re driving, you need to be confident because a lack thereof leads to hesitation and mistakes. The last thing you want for your child is for them to fall apart in the middle of the freeway.
Your child needs to feel good about driving with you because you’re a major part of their practice environment. If they feel uncomfortable with you watching over, they won’t be able to learn as well because they’ll be anticipating you yelling at or scolding them.
If you remain cool and collected, your child will pick up on this and their natural confidence will flourish!
Set a Safe Example
One last piece of advice is to set a safe example for your child.
You’ve likely heard of the phrase: practice what you preach. This is particularly true when it comes to driving.
Anytime your child is in the car with you, they’re going to pick up on your driving habits. Even if it seems like they aren’t paying attention, on some level they register what you’re doing.
In response, they will mimic your behavior. If you speed, roll through stop signs, tailgate, or anything similar, you’ll find that your child does the same.
You might tell them not to do this, but they’ll struggle with understanding why you tell them one thing and do another.
Bypass this entirely by always being a safe driver, especially when your kid is around! Set a great example for them and they’ll be a safe driver as a result.
Teaching your teenager how to drive is no simple task, but it’s certainly possible and there are right and wrong ways to go about it.
You want to be the best teacher possible to give your child the greatest chance of being a good driver.
A few suggestions for achieving this include emphasizing the importance of studying, practicing in different situations, encouraging awareness, maintaining your composure, and setting a safe example.
While the thought of your child driving alone might be terrifying, you can give them the tools they need to be safe! Take your teaching seriously and you’ll do your child a huge favor!