The time comes in every teen’s life where they learn how to drive a car. This ceremony is a milestone in their life because it grants them the freedom one gets from driving wherever they want, whenever they want.
This means the responsibility of educating your teen falls on you, the parent. You know how to drive, but do you know how to educate someone on how to drive?
Before you ride shotgun with someone with zero driving experience, and while they’re taking an online drivers education course, understand what to expect and how to plan when teaching your teen how to drive a car.
At What Age Should You Teach Your Child to Drive?
When your teen gets old enough, they will be expected to learn how to operate a car and get their driver’s license. You should show your child how to drive a car around the age of 16.
Around this age, teens want to go places. Whether it’s on dates or hanging out with friends, your teen will have a social life developing, and this is the best time they can learn to use the family van.
But you do not have to wait until your teen is 16 years old to drive. Some teens will express interest at an earlier age. You can decide whether they’re ready to learn based on their curiosity and competency.
How Do I Teach my 16-year-old to Drive?
Many parents don’t know how to help their kids learn to drive. When you trust your teen and you believe they have the ability to build this new skillset, you can start the teaching process. There is a lot that goes into teaching your teen how to operate a vehicle. So, here are 13 tips to help you show your 16-year-old how to drive:
1. Get them excited about driving
When your teen is excited to learn, they will become more willing to listen. Excitement goes a long way when learning new skills. It encourages people to take initiative and go the extra mile to understand something. So, when you show your teen the importance of operating a car, they will become excited, knowing that it’s the next step toward personal freedom. When they’re ready, the teaching can begin.
2. Create a practice schedule
You and your teen should commit to a practice schedule. Look at a calendar and choose several days in a week to block off time for driving. Then, decide how long you want them to practice. Make sure you’re setting these days and times in advance to hold you and your teen accountable.
3. Make goals for every session
Set a goal every session. By setting a goal, you have a clear objective when your teen gets behind the wheel. This will help break down a possibly overwhelming lesson plan. Also, goals will help your new driver focus on one lesson at a time.
4. Set a comfortable pace
As the parent, you set the pace. But you should consider where your teen is in their learning process. When you take into consideration the pace of your teen, then you can work with them at a pace that is comfortable to them. When your teen is comfortable, you can ensure a safer lesson without triggering anxiety from being overwhelmed.
5. Start small
Remember, the only driving experience your teen has is from watching you, the movies, or from playing video games. In other words, not much. They are a new driver, so you should show them the basics first. Everyone remembers maneuvering a car in an empty parking lot for one reason: it’s easy. Start them in an empty parking lot with little to no obstacles and have them familiarize themselves with the vehicle. Then, your next lessons can build upon this key first step.
6. Always encourage safe driving
Seat belts, rearview mirrors, and getting the seat adjusted are a few things teens should do when sitting in the driver seat. Parents should always encourage their teens to practice defensive driving and taking the extra steps to be safe while on the roads. Road safety is one of the most important lessons parents can teach their student drivers.
7. Show them good habits
Keep in mind, your teens will look to you for guidance on how to conduct themselves behind the wheel. A new driver will look to a seasoned driver to know what to do on the road. If you practice bad driving habits, then, chances are, your teen will too. Understand which habits make good drivers and emulate those. By doing so, you will introduce them to safe driving habits. That reassures them, and it reassures you that your teen will be safe on the roads.
8. Drive in good weather conditions
Practice driving in appropriate weather conditions. If it is their first time behind the wheel, don’t have them go on a busy highway during a torrential downpour. Keep them comfortable and you will have a comfortable ride. If the weather conditions are too harsh on a scheduled driving practice day, then you should consider rescheduling.
9. Be clear and specific
New teen drivers are prone to information overload. If you give them generic direction, then your teen might not understand what you’re referring to, which can result in a collision. When you’re giving them instructions or directions, refrain from using “right” as an affirmation. Instead, use “correct” or “yes.” Also, give them advance notice when you would like them to make a turn or other traffic maneuver. This will reduce misunderstanding and the risk of an incident.
10. Don’t forget to cover parking
There’s one thing you should remember to focus on: parking. So, how can you teach your teenager how to park a car? Familiarize yourself with the three types of parking:
● 90-degree parking
● Angle parking
● Parallel parking
When you’re comfortable with these maneuvers, schedule time with them to show them how to park. Don’t forget to make sure you understand the correct handling to park properly. This will help your teenager to know what to do to safely and successfully park the car.
11. Challenge them
One of the best ways people improve in a skill is by being challenged. This forces them outside of their comfort zone (the empty parking lot). When they overcome the challenge, their driving skills improve, and their self-confidence does too. So, when you’re scheduling practices, think about how you can challenge your teen driver.
12. Test their knowledge
As they start driving on the roads, test their knowledge. Ask them what the speed limit is, how many cars are approaching them, or which is the best lane they should be in at the moment. This will train them to look for important information while driving, such as road signs and how fast they’re driving.
13. Have patience
We want our teenagers to be the best at everything. But one flaw all humans have is the inability to be perfect right away. Teaching your teen to drive takes time, so when you’re driving around lamp posts in a parking lot or switching lanes on a highway, remember to be patient with your child. If they make an error, don’t get angry, or if they feel nervous, don’t push them too much. By doing so, you keep them motivated to improve.
How Does a Scared Teenager Learn to Drive?
Not all teenagers are enthusiastic about driving. In fact, some are downright terrified. Understanding the rules of the road for some can be overwhelming.
Before you push your teen to operate a car, you should see how comfortable they are with the idea. Some teenagers are scared to get behind the wheel. In this situation, here are some tips you can use to help a scared teen driver:
Hear their perspective
When someone is scared, their brain tells them they’re in danger. If your teenager is scared about driving, then they are perceiving a danger surrounding it. That’s why you should hear their perspective. Let them know that you understand their fear. This will help them feel heard so they can start overcoming this fear.
Show them the importance of driving
When they’re ready to listen, show them the importance of driving and the empowerment it brings. They may be letting the fear outweigh the excitement that comes with learning a new skill. Show them the perks of driving, and it can turn something scary into something exciting.
Expose them to driving and reinforce positive development
Introduce driving to them in small bite sizes. You can introduce them to the car without switching gears or leaving the driveway. When you create a safe environment for your teenager, they will let go of the fear they had about driving. Also, positively reinforce good behavior. When they show interest or start driving, you should encourage them. This will help them develop driving skills.
Be patient and let them show interest
The last thing you want to do is pressure your teenager into driving. This will turn them off from learning and create a dangerous environment for them and yourself. Work at a comfortable pace and remember to be patient. Don’t lose your temper and encourage secondhand road rage. Helping your scared teenager takes time, which requires patience from the parent.
Enroll them into a driving school
Finally, you can enroll your teenager into driving school. Professionals can help your teenager become comfortable with operating a vehicle. They have experience working with students from every background and skill level. By doing so, you are guaranteeing them a safe educational experience.
Final Thoughts on Teaching a Teen to Drive
Your teenager has reached a milestone in their life. They’re learning to drive so they can embrace a greater sense of freedom. As a parent, this is an exciting time to show your teens the important skills necessary to help them become better drivers. Always be patient and considerate when you are teaching your teen how to operate a vehicle. When you do, you help your teenager to drive better and create a safer road for everyone.