Learning how to drive is an exciting time for your teen. Chances are, it’s not quite so exciting for you. Although it’s true you might end up spending less time behind the wheel yourself as your child gets more independent, which is something to celebrate, you’re likely to be extremely worried too.
It’s normal to feel worried when your teen is ready to drive, but your fear should be cautious—not all-encompassing.
If you’re feeling overly anxious about your teen learning how to drive, and it’s affecting your ability to stay positive as they learn, you need to take a look at these five tips.
1. Actively Participate in the Process of Obtaining a License
There’s a lot your child can do to learn how to drive independently. They can practice by taking the permit test online, they can learn how to drive with a driver’s ed teacher, and they take the final test at the DMV.
Giving your child some independence over their learning experience is important, but if you’re worried about their ability to drive, it’s important that you’re part of that process.
Quiz them with questions they are likely to see on the permit test and the final driver’s license test. Take them out on the road and practice driving in town and on the interstate. By actively participating in their education, you can help them become a safer driver, and you can put your mind at ease in the process. If you reside in Texas, you can opt for the Parent Taught Driver’s Ed course instead of hiring an instructor for your teen.
2. Create a Contract
There are a lot of rules you have to follow on the road. You probably have your own rules that you want your child to follow when they’re behind the wheel too. Instead of shouting at them to leave their phone in the backseat as they’re walking out the door, create a contract and have them sign it.
Creating a contract ensures there is no confusion over what’s expected while your child is driving, and it can reduce pushback if they break the rules and there is a consequence. With a contract they signed, they can’t claim they didn’t know they couldn’t talk on speakerphone while driving!
3. Equip the Car for Safety
Emergencies can happen on the road, and experiencing one can be scary, especially for new drivers. Equip the car with safety item, and make sure your child knows what items are in the car, where they can be found, and how to use them.
A few items to put in the car include:
- Jumper cables
- First aid kit
- Spare tire
- Jack and lug wrench
- Tire pressure gauge
- Hazard equipment
- Duct tape
There are also seasonal things you should have in the car, like a blanket and snacks in the winter. By equipping the car properly and teaching your child how to use that equipment, you’ll feel a little less worried if they’re late coming home because the car broke down.
4. Teach Them Safe Driving Techniques
Safety equipment will only get you so far. If you really want to lessen your anxiety and feel more confident every time your child gets behind the wheel, you need to make sure they know safe driving techniques that will set them up for success.
Driving in the car with them is the best way to teach them these techniques. Teach them to look for cues in traffic, not just at traffic signs, and show them what a safe following distance looks like. When you see your teen practicing these techniques in the car, you’ll feel better when the time comes for them to drive alone.
5. Try Not to Overreact
There are plenty of things teens find annoying about their parents, but one of the most annoying is overreacting. Unfortunately, that’s an easy thing to do when it involves your teen getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.
Crashing into the garage might seem like the perfect occasion to yell in frustration, but it isn’t going to help. You want your child to be able to come to you with problems, especially if those problems include driving, so taking a deep breath is important. If a punishment is necessary, wait until you can discuss that punishment calmly.
If your teen is getting ready to drive, your anxiety will probably never go away completely, but you can reduce it dramatically. Follow the tips on this list and you can create a confident driver that instills confidence in you every time they hit the road.