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Teaching Your Teenager To Drive

It’s something parents have been looking forward to and dreading for nearly a century–teaching their 15 or 16 year old how to drive. Although teens who know how to drive do make it easier for parents to manage their busy lives, all parents inevitably suffer the worry and stress associated with not only teaching their teen to drive but the potential for disaster after teens receive their licenses.

5 Great Tips to Remember While Teaching Your Teenager to Drive

  1. Avoid using “I” statements when correcting your teen’s driving mistakes . For example, don’t say “That’s not how I make a turn” or “I always put my signal on a block before I turn”. Try asking a question instead of making an “I” statement, such as “Do you think that turn was too wide or just right?” or “When do you think you should put on your turn signal?” Using an “I” statement only seems antagonistic and authoritative to a teenager who is on the verge of becoming fully independent.
  2. Be aware that some teenagers don’t want to learn how to drive at 15 1/2 years old simply because they feel they aren’t ready. Instead of constantly talking about how the “big day” is fast approaching, let your teenager come to you about learning to drive. Pushing the issue of getting a driver’s license to teens who are anxious about driving is not only ill-advised but potentially dangerous as well.
  3. Never start teaching a teenage driver the basics of driving on a busy street. Find an empty parking lot (school parking lots in the summer work well) and begin there. Let your teen practice driving up and down the lot, making turns, stopping, parking and using panel instruments. Building your teen’s confidence before allowing him to drive in traffic is essential to raising a safe, defensive-style driver.
  4. Give your teen directions well in advance. Don’t wait until you are within a few feet of making a turn before telling him to turn left or right. Say “OK, we are going to be turning left at the next stop sign or traffic light”.  Telling your teen to perform a driving action at the last minute may confuse him and definitely make him more anxious.
  5. Watch your driving habits when your teen is riding in the car with you. Although his/her face may be buried in his/her iPhone, she is still paying attention to how fast you are driving, if you are using your turn signal properly, how soon you apply the brakes when approaching a stop sign and whether you are prone to “road rage”.