Nothing is scarier than putting your teen in control of a two-ton vehicle and setting them loose on the road. It’s a monumental leap in the dark and one where parents have little control. What’s more, driving is dangerous, and until everybody’s driving autonomous cars, it’s likely to stay that way.
Preparing your teen for driving is a big deal. But there is a lot that parents can do to help their children prepare for this critical milestone. What’s more, you’ll refresh your own skills in the process and become a safer and better driver.
Practice, Practice, And Then Practice Some More
We all know that the way you drive is to practice, practice and then practice some more. The way that people get good at things is by doing them over and over again. In the beginning, you’ll want to make sure that your child learns all the basics of the road and that they’re able to navigate the road network and react to challenging situations. But towards the end of the process, you’ll want them to be able to practice for their test too.
The good news is that you don’t have to recreate the test environment yourself. Instead, you can choose one of a nationwide selection of permit practice tests designed to recreate conditions on the day of the test. The more chances your child has to practice driving under those conditions, the more confident they’ll feel and the more likely they are to pass.
A good place to start learning how to drive is an empty parking lot. This gives children the chance to learn how to accelerate and brake and how to control the movements of the car. You can set up imaginary obstacles for the child to drive around based on the space markings on the ground, creating virtual courses without putting the car itself at risk if they aren’t quite used to how the car steers yet.
You can also take this opportunity to get them used to how the various controls in the car work, like the windshield wipers, lights, turn signals, and defrosters. This part can be complicated, but it’s essential that it becomes more of a subconscious action since kids will have other things to worry about once they get out onto the real road.
Finally, help your child get an idea of how the brakes work, especially in wet conditions. Do a series of emergency stops in the parking lot to get them accustomed to pushing down hard on the brakes in an emergency.
Build More Advanced Skills
Once your teenager has learned the basics, it’s time to move onto more advanced skills. These include things like changing lanes, merging with traffic and maintaining lower speeds if road conditions are bad. It’s a good idea to start off on smaller roads before moving onto the main busy highways to get your child accustomed to driving in normal conditions. They’ll have to deal with all sorts of obstacles, like parked cars and people randomly darting out into the road in front of them.
Choosing Their First Car
Once your teen has learned to drive and they’ve gotten their driver’s license, a whole new set of decisions have to be made. Should you buy a car or let them continue to use the family car? If you buy, should it be a new car or a used car? Should you require them to drive with an adult the first year? Who should pay for what? And many more. At this point, the best thing to do is sit down with your teen and make these decisions together.