My oldest recently turned 15 and got her permit which meant that it was time to start teaching her how to drive. I was excited and nervous at the same time. The first time we went out for a lesson together on the road I immediately related to all the other parents who have traveled down this same road, literally. While we are still figuring out this whole learning experience together as we go along, the following are some tips I have compiled based on what has seemed to worked best. I would also love to hear any other tips from fellow parents or additional words of advice if you have any in the comments below!
Tip 1: Start out with the basics
Your teen can feel overwhelmed the first time they get behind the wheel of a car. It is best to start out with the basics such as parking and backing up, preferably in areas that are vacant to begin. From there you can graduate to driving in low traffic residential areas to practice stopping and using your turn signals.
Tip 2: Know your teen's comfort zone
You may think that your teen has mastered a certain subject and they are ready to move on to a more difficult driving task to practice, but if your teen is showing signs of hesitancy, it is important to not push them and to recognize their comfort zone. Be sure to listen to your teen because they may want more practice in a certain area or maybe they won't vocalize it and you may need to recognize that they need more practice in a certain subject before moving on.
Tip 3: Try to stay calm
Sitting passenger to your teen when they are learning how to drive can sometimes be quite the nervous experience. Just try to remember that your teen is probably just as nervous as you are. The best thing to do if you feel overly nervous while your teen is driving is to try to remain as calm as possible, even if you don't feel that way. It may be hard but the additional nervous energy will only negatively effect your teen. Your goal is to keep them calm and focused on the road.
Tip 4: Keep all distractions at a minimum
When your teen is first learning how to drive any minor distractions can cause them to lose focus. While they may want to listen to some music, having the radio on during this time of learning is never a good idea when they are first learning how to drive. I have also found that if you can keep other passengers out of the equation whenever possible it also helps your teen to stay focused with what you are teaching them. Driving is about multitasking, and until they have gotten good at getting this down, distractions throw a wrench in that learning process.
Tip 5: Always give praise where it is due
This tip may seem like an easy one but I wanted to put it in here because I think praise is so important for a teen that is first learning how to drive to hear. This goes back to both the teen and the parent possibly having high nerves through this process, and a little praise can go a long way. If your teen does something well then tell them! They will get a boost of confidence that they need that will carry over into the next time they get behind the wheel. It also helps build an even stronger bond between you and your child.