Teaching your teenager to drive starts long before you hand them the keys to the car. Even if you don’t feel like they still follow you around, watching your every move, they still do. Setting a good example for being a responsible, safe driver is vital to their success on the road. Here are some ways you can make your child a great driver.
Prepare Before You Drive
Make sure you are calm and ready to drive before you get behind the wheel. Don’t drive when you are stressed, angry, or distracted. Feeling this way prohibits you from maneuvering your vehicle in a calm and careful way. If you aren’t calm, you are more likely to experience road rage or show impatience and not follow all the laws. When you are calm and focused, you can talk effectively to your teen about the things you see on the road.
If you are impaired in any way, don’t drive. This includes situations where you have been drinking, doing drugs, taking medications, or are overly tired. Point out to your teen that you are not fit to drive and teach them alternate ways to get home, if necessary, like calling a friend or a driving service to pick you up. It is never too early to stress the importance of safe driving.
Teach as You Drive
Make sure you always wear your seatbelt. Don’t ever pull out of your driveway until you have checked that all your passengers are buckled up too. This teaches your children that safety is a priority in your car and you expect them to follow the rules.
As you are out on the road, say out loud the safe practices you are doing. Follow the laws, including driving under the speed limit. If you notice people driving incorrectly around you, point out what they did wrong and teach what they should have done. Talking to your teen about it will help bring things to their attention. Don’t get upset if someone cuts you off or does something aggressive toward you. Set the example and show how your teen how you would like them to respond if they were in your position.
Another way you can follow the law and make a big difference is by not using your cellphone while you drive. Your kids are all watching when you use it, even if you think they aren’t. Pull out of traffic and onto the side of the road if you need to use your phone. Handing it to them to read or respond to messages helps teach them you take this rule seriously. Don’t make exceptions for yourself or teach them that you can get away with it.
Reinforce What You Teach
As a parent, it can be hard to hear your child correct you. When your child points out that you are doing something wrong, like driving too fast, forgetting your seatbelt, or using your phone while driving, don’t brush it off. Remember, this means that they are paying attention to what you are trying to teach them. Thank them for noticing and immediately try to do better. By setting a good example for your future driver, you are helping them see good driving in action and that is the best way to learn.