It is said to be a parent’s worst nightmare. People talk about it with apprehension and an amount of fear in their voice that would frighten anybody. Some parents even say they barely survived the process. That’s right folks; I’m talking about teaching your teenager to drive. I recently obtained my special learners permit and will not have my license for a few more months, meaning I must have a supervising driver with me at all times, which is usually one of my parents. All the bickering back and forth between my parents and I, not to mention the stress on both ends, is what inspired me to put together a list of tips for parents teaching their kids how to drive. My hope is that by you understanding how we teens feel when were behind the wheel in different situations will help you help us to be the best driver we possibly can.
Keep calm and believe in us.
There is a common misconception about teenagers, and that is that all we want to do is do “grown up things” such as driving, without the responsibilities, and that we are in such a rush that we often don’t bother thinking ahead or about consequences. I’m not saying that isn’t sometimes true, but for most teens like myself I have news for all you parents: we are just as nervous about driving as you are to teach us! So you being nervous only make us worse. We all know everyone deals and can maneuver more efficiently when calm, so my tip? KEEP CALM! Don’t scream at us, or second guess our judgment by yelling obvious things such as “red light!” This only causes us to second guess ourselves and panic. Overreactions to small errors, or errors you think we will make, only build up tension and apprehension in the vehicle. When my dad yells at me to do something I already know to do, or worse when he keeps his hand hovering the emergency brake the entire time we’re in the car, it makes me feel like he doesn’t have faith in me. This essentially causes me to lose faith in myself in some driving situations. It’s good to be cautious, and instruct your teen driver, just don’t go overboard. We know you only freak out because you love us so much, but no one can learn correctly in a hostile environment; and that is a fact all parents should really take into consideration.
In my opinion it is better to start teaching your son or daughter to drive the first legal age they can obtain a learners permit. A lot of parents have a theory that the older their children are when they start driving, the more serious they will take the lessons. That or they are just prolonging the process because of their own fears for their child behind a wheel. I am the youngest of three siblings and there was a rule in my house that no one got their license until they were 18 years old. After getting their licenses, both of my older sisters happen to have been in terrible accidents so bad that it is a miracle they are here today unscratched. After seeing that, my parents decided that they were going to start teaching me to drive at the youngest age possible to avoid something so severe happening again. The more experience, the better is what I say. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s difficult to hand the keys to a 1,000 pound machine that is potentially dangerous over to your child, the one you still see as a small baby. However, it is worse to avoid teaching your kids to drive because that means you aren’t preparing them for what lies ahead, I mean they are going to drive sometime or later and by not allowing them to now you are withholding a crucial component for their future success on the road: experience.
Leave personal matters outside the car, please.
On the state test to receive a driving permit one of the questions tells us that we are not to drive if in an emotional state at any time. We young drivers need to keep ourselves composed behind the wheel in order to do the best we can on the road. What does this mean for you parents? Well, this means that when inside the vehicle with your child driving is no time to discuss personal matters or bring up an ongoing disagreement between the two of you. I don’t care what your son or daughter did or didn’t do, when they are trying to focus their mind on safe driving it should not be brought up. It can distract their attention or get them highly emotional while on the road; resulting in poor judgment and/or a fatal crash. For example, say your daughter Sarah missed curfew last night. When Sarah is making a turn on red it is really not the time to fight about it! If you do not think that you or your child can control your emotions in the car, then simply do yourselves and every other driver on the road a favor and don’t practice behind the wheel until the issue/s have been resolved.
In conclusion, when teaching your son or daughter to drive it is certainly a stressful time for all. I sincerely hope parents are able to understand where teens are coming from and follow the above tips to assure safety and a smoother and less tense time for the both of you. Talk to one another, communicate and make a plan that you know will allow both of you to keep your cool on the road and drive/instruct properly. The last thing you want is your child to pull away from you during a time when they should actually be learning the most from you. Thank you.