It is probably hard to believe, but that tiny baby you brought home from the hospital — seemingly last week — is somehow now a 16-year-old teenager who cannot wait to get their driver’s license.
To help your new driver be safe and responsible behind the wheel, as well as prepare for the big day when they take the driving test, please keep the following tips in mind.
Keep the Lessons Short, at Least at First
One of the best ways to build up your teen’s confidence behind the wheel, notes TeenDriving.com, is to start off with lots of small, short trips. This can also help both of you to get over any cases of nerves you might have about the situation.
Have your daughter drive you around your neighborhood for 20 minutes or ask your son to take you to the grocery store. As both of you get used to the idea that your teen is now driving, you can extend the lessons in both time and distance.
Look Into Insurance Now Rather Than Later
As soon as your teenager gets a driving permit, you should call your insurance agent to verify when you need to add her to your driving policy. If you find that your rates will go up much more than you realized and/or can afford, by all means, feel free to shop around for a new car insurance company.
For instance, if you are a military family, you might find a much better rate through a company like USAA; in addition, drivers who complete a safety course can qualify for a discount through USAA, and your son or daughter might also be eligible for some savings based on their good grades.
Be an Outstanding Role Model
If you have ever given your teenager crystal-clear instructions about something, only to have them look right at you and say “huh?”, you probably feel like your teens never pay attention to you. But nothing is further from the truth, especially when you are behind the wheel of the car.
If your teen sees you texting while driving, making a phone call or tailgating, he is much more likely to do the same thing. As the National Highway Safety Administration notes, the opposite is also true: if you keep your cell phone out of reach when you drive, always buckle up and are respectful to other drivers, your teenager will follow your example.
Be Kind With Your Feedback
When you are out on the road with your teen behind the wheel, remember that practice makes progress — not perfect. Even if you found yourself pumping an invisible brake pedal more times than you’d like to admit, do your best to be gentle with your criticisms and more forthcoming with praise.
Believe it or not, your teen is probably super nervous too, and a few harsh words from you may make him decide to skip driving for now, and/or to feel very uncomfortable behind the wheel.
With this in mind, consider signing your teen up for professional driving lessons; this way, they can learn with a trained instructor and then do more basic practicing with you.
Good Luck, to Both of You
In some ways, having a new teenage driver in the home probably feels like a milestone for you as much as your child.
But by remembering to act responsibly when you are driving, keep the first lessons short and sweet, praise whenever you can and look for ways to save on insurance costs, this significant time will be more positive and stress-free than challenging.