Learning how to teach your child to drive is a big deal. It’s a major milestone in a teenager’s life and it’s one that comes with no small amount of nerves. But don’t worry! You managed to get your kids this far, you can figure out how to teach your child to drive. Just follow these tips, and they’ll be on their way to a driver’s license in no time.
Start With the Basics
You’ve been driving for a long time. So much of what you do automatically is completely new to your child. Before they even think about turning on the engine, have them sit in the driver’s seat and get familiar with the car.
This includes helping them adjust the seat and mirrors as well as pointing out where the turn signals, windshield wipers and headlights are located. Even the pedals on the floor and gear shift need an explanation. Remember, this is all new to your child.
In addition to making sure they buckle their seat belts, have a little talk about distracted driving. Encourage them to put down their smartphone and take advantage of hands-free calling. Whether it’s through your car’s infotainment system or an aftermarket device, make sure they know how to answer and make calls without touching that smartphone.
Slow and Steady
It’s not just speed we’re talking about on this one. The process of learning to drive takes time, so ease into it slowly. Don’t expect your child to be ready for the highway right away. Give them time to get comfortable behind the wheel and gradually introduce new situations.
This is good for you, too, since it lets you build up your confidence as their teacher. Don’t try to do too much too soon. Spend an extra day driving around a parking lot if they need a bit more practice before the open road. Cut a planned driving session short and reschedule it if you or your child is tired. Take all the time you both need to get it right.
Take a Deep Breath
You’re nervous. Your child is nervous. Everyone is nervous. The trick here is to relax. The calmer you are, the calmer your child will be and vice versa. Remember, you have all the time you need to practice so there’s no reason to put pressure on yourself or your child to rush through the process.
It’s also important to stay calm when they do something wrong. Instead of panicking and yelling, calmly explain why they didn’t merge the right way or should have let another car turn first. Remain calm and it will be easier for you both.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
It’s not until you try to teach someone how to drive that you realize how much you do intuitively. Your job is to help your child develop that same intuition. If you see a car about to cut you off, even if you have the right of way, tell your child and explain that you noticed they were slowing down or starting to drift into your lane.
Share how you would handle every situation, so they understand how to make good decisions on the road when you’re not there. Driving is one part the physical mechanics of using a car and one part watching everyone else and knowing what to do around other cars.
Figuring out how to teach your child to drive isn’t as difficult as you might think. Take your time, relax and communicate with your child, and they’ll be ready to drive in no time.
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Nicole Wakelin covers the automotive industry as a freelance journalist for a variety of outlets. Her work includes news pieces, podcasts, radio, written reviews, and video reviews. She can be found in The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, US News and World Report, and AAA along with lifestyle blogs like Be Car Chic, The Other PTA, and She Buys Cars. She is active on social media with a large following on both Twitter and Instagram and currently serves as Vice President of the New England Motor Press Association.