There’s a lot of excitement when your son or daughter becomes old enough to drive. Often, lessons are booked for their birthday and the focus is on taking – and passing – the driving test as quickly as possible.
This is likely to involve you taking them out in your own car, too, so they can practice what they learn. This can lead to some nervous moments – for both of you. After all, they’ll be as worried as you are about having an accident, or even scratching a wheel by scraping it along the curb.
We’ve got some advice to help keep things calm and ensure they get the most out of the opportunity.
Wait until they’re ready
Sometimes, we’re keener for our kids to get out on the roads than they are. While they may be looking forward to greater independence, taking the wheel is a big responsibility. A nervous driver can be a dangerous driver, so don’t push them to go out with you if they don’t want to.
They might prefer to get a little more experience under their belts with an instructor before venturing out in the family car. You know your son or daughter's moods best, so if they seem nervous, let them know there’s no pressure and tell them to let you know when they’re ready.
Plan the route
You want your child to feel as confident as possible, and it will help if they know where they’re going. Stick to familiar roads at first and, before you set off, go over the route so they know what to expect.
Make sure they understand what instructions such as ‘take the third exit’ mean and, once you set off, give any directions well in advance. At this stage, it’s a bit like ticking items off a shopping list – check mirrors, slow down, change gear etc. Your teenager needs time to think about and prepare for any maneuvers.
Keep things calm
It’s likely your child is nervous enough about driving with you in the car, so do your best to relax and keep things light. If they can sense you constantly pressing an invisible brake pedal in the passenger footwell, it will make them more anxious.
Try not to correct every error they make. If they’re speeding, for example, rather than simply telling them to slow down, ask what the speed limit is and then how fast they are going. Positive reinforcement, such as praising them for checking the rearview mirror regularly, is also more likely to help them develop good habits.
If things get heated, or you’re finding it hard to hide your agitation, suggest pulling over for a short break and find somewhere to grab a coffee.
Include basic maintenance
As well as driving, it’s a good idea to make sure your son or daughter has some knowledge of basic checks and maintenance. Once they pass their driving test, they’ll be off on their own – and they need to know what to do should they become stranded.
Show them how to check and correct tire pressures and which fluids they need to keep topped up, such as oil, coolant, and windshield wash. Teach them how to change a tire in case they get a puncture.
Don’t be too insistent
Chances are it’s been a while since you passed your own driving test. Techniques change, and your child may be taught to perform maneuvers differently than you were. Over time, you may also have developed some shortcuts or bad habits which your teenager shouldn’t use at this stage.
Let your son or daughter do what their professional instructor has taught them. Who knows – you might even pick up some useful tips!
- You might also like to read this article: How to Choose the Right First Car for a New Driver