*Tips for when your teen starts driving is a guest post. If you are interested in writing for A Modern Mom’s Life, please visit my guest posting page.*
Having a child that has just started driving will likely be one of the most stressful times in a parent’s life. It’s a big moment for both sides. Teens are excited about their new freedom; parents have to learn to give that freedom, and worry about the safety of their kids as they venture out on their own.
We have a right to worry; motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. But by instilling good driving habits in your teen early on, you’ll help them be prepared to react responsibly in any situation they may find themselves in.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when your teen starts driving.
Practice makes perfect.
Once your teen has their permit or license, build their (and your) confidence in their abilities by starting with the basics. Work on skills in places that don’t have many obstacles or other drivers, like a parking lot or a road out in the country. Get them used to simply controlling the car. Work your way up to neighborhood streets and busier roads. Once they are comfortable with most situations, keep practicing by letting them drive when running errands around town. This is an easy way to get supervised driving in without having to go out of your way to schedule designated practice time.
Keep yourself in line.
I know, I know. It’s hard to stay calm in a time like this. But if you are screeching at your teen to slow down, it’s only going to stress them out. Be gentle with your criticism. Remember, they want to do a good job and earn your trust.
Make mistakes a teachable moment.
Your kid isn’t going to come out of the gate being a perfect driver. Mistakes will be made. Brakes will probably be slammed a few times, and you’ll definitely do your fair share of clutching the center console. But when they make a mistake, take the opportunity to ask them what they can do differently next time to avoid the mishap. Help them learn from the bad experiences.
Get them familiar with the car they’ll be driving.
Make sure that your teen knows the ins and outs of the car that they will be using. Before they even think about putting that car in drive, check that they know the location of important controls like windshield wipers, emergency flashers, cruise control, etc. Driving down the highway going 60 miles per hour isn’t the place for them to figure out how to operate important functions.
Pass on good maintenance habits.
Staying up to date with basic car maintenance is key to keeping your car running properly. Open the hood and show them how to check for fluid levels and let them know how often the car needs the oil changed. Show them how to check tire pressure and explain what the different dashboard lights mean.
Set a good example.
According to one study, teens reported that their parents drive distracted more often than their peers. That means that you may be bad influence when it comes to your teen driving, not their friends. Be mindful of this when driving with your teen– they are watching you. If you text, take phone calls, and speed, there’s a greater chance that your kid will too.
Anna Blair is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. She loves guacamole, Roman history, and her 2-year old Doberman Pinscher named Catullus.
Do you have children old enough to be driving? We’re still 5 years out here, but we all know how quickly time flies! If you’ve passed this milestone already, please share your wisdom with me and my readers in the comments!