6 Tips for Teaching Your Child How to Drive
The tradition of teaching a child how to drive is one that many parents find themselves struggling with. Years behind the wheel can make this skill seem completely intuitive. However, all new drivers have to learn to adapt to the experience of steering, controlling the pedals, and other aspects of driving. These are six tips for teaching your children how to drive.
1. Teach Maneuvers
Before your child can deal with any sort of traffic, they need to be able to control their vehicle. The best place to start with this is by going to an empty parking lot and guiding them through basic maneuvers. These include starting the engine, driving forward, in reverse, turning, and stopping smoothly. Instruct them to perform these as they would on a main or residential road. They need to act as though there are other cars around. Once they’ve gotten the hang of basic maneuvers, they can enter into low-traffic flow before gradually entering denser driving situations.
2. Lead By Example
Even when your child is sitting in the passenger seat, you can still teach them how to drive. While you’re driving, commit to presenting the safest driving possible. Imagine your child is a driving instructor and you’re in the hot seat. You should also present them with real-time decision-making scenarios. When a specific driving situation arises, such as hiring sirens in the distance, ask them exactly what to do and why. This will help them to understand why certain rules of the road exist.
3. Drive in Rough Conditions
You shouldn’t do this until your child is capable in good weather conditions, but all drivers need to be able to handle rough environments. If there are dark clouds hanging in the sky, have your child take the wheel as the rain is pouring. They need to know what to do to increase visibility and deal with hazards that come from inclement weather. It’s also good for them to understand that choosing to stay in rather than driving in hazardous conditions is a completely acceptable solution.
4. Teach Observation
Drivers need to be using their eyes on a constant basis. What’s going on beside and behind you is just as important as what’s happening in front. Your child should be looking all around them and making full use of their mirrors. As they’re driving forward, they need to scan the entire horizon as well as what’s immediately in front of them. Being a good driver is a matter of being mindful.
5. Teach Defensive Driving
If your child follows the rules of the road, they’ll likely quickly realize how much other people fail to do so. It might not seem fair that so many people treat their license like a right, not a privilege, but the only thing your child can do is stay alert. Defensive driving involves the very real understanding that other drivers are malicious or oblivious. It lets your child have a good reaction time that will allow them to get out of the way of cars that run red lights or change lanes without signaling. The best way to avoid an accident is to realize that accidents are never expected.
6. Offer Constructive Criticism
It’s not up to you if your child receives their license, so your preparation should make it clear what they do well and what needs improvement. It’s important to view what they’re doing in the context of their current standing as a driver. The first time they parallel park or merge on the highway might be a bit sloppy, but your assessment should be done with the intention of helping them to improve, not putting immense pressure on them to be perfect. You should also be clear with telling them when they’ve done something that’s seriously dangerous. In order to show that they deserve their license, your child needs to show that they take the responsibility that goes with it seriously.
Your child deserves to receive driving lessons that pay respect to their intelligence and that don’t pass judgment on their inexperience. No matter how good of a driver you are now, there was a time when you had far less confidence behind the wheel. Work with your child on the building blocks of learning to drive, and help them understand that you believe in them and are invested in their success.