Once teens get their driving permit, the amount of practice time they receive and the quality of the driving instructions you give them can determine the type of driver they’ll become. Yet as you probably know from your own past experiences, learning to drive under your parent’s supervision isn’t always the smoothest of endeavors. The following pages offer tips and guidelines that will help parents and teens get the most out of this process, without killing each other in the meantime.

Guidelines on driving with your teen under a driving permit

  1. Ask yourself: Are you the right teacher?

In most cases, parents are the best people to teach their teens how to drive. But if you tend to be especially jumpy, nervous, or unable to control your reactions when excited, it may be best to let another family member or responsible adult do the bulk of the teaching. Parents who are impatient, judgmental, or unable to relax are liable to make their teen anxious and stressed, and anxiously stressed teens are more likely to make mistakes and less likely to learn.

  1. Recognize that personality differences influence driving

Each child is unique, and so is their driving style. One teen may lack confidence on the road, and building confidence through kudos or something like a performance driving school may improve their driving. Another naturally peels out of the driveway like a bat out of hell. The last thing this teen needs is more confidence to add to the overconfidence they already possess.

Experts recommend that parents consider a child’s personality differences when administering driving rules and instructions. Not all teens need equal instruction in all areas. The timid driver may become safer with confidence, the overconfident teen needs a reality check, and the easily distracted or absent-minded teen needs focus. Try to gauge the driving style of your teen, and adjust the instruction accordingly.

  1. Teach, don’t command

Don’t just bark instructions at them. If your teen’s speed starts to creep up, rather than saying “slow down,” ask them to check their speedometer, count how much distance there is between them and the car in front of them, and so on. Not only is this approach less confrontational, but it encourages kids to think about their driving as opposed to simply complying to your instructions.

  1. Don’t be critical

This is important. If you would like your teen to ignore absolutely everything you ever say, then by all means, be impatient and critical. But if you want them to actually listen to your advice and learn from you, find some patience and don’t yell at them for their mistakes. All young drivers will have them.

  1. Practice, practice, practice

When your child gets their learning permit, they are going to be anxious to get behind the wheel. You want them to get as much practice as possible before they’re out on their own. Unfortunately, too many reluctant parents waste this opportunity away, either because they feel they’re too busy to take their child out to drive, or don’t like to. Perhaps it spikes their blood pressure too much. Whatever the reason, kids often don’t get enough driving experience during the permit stage. If you have to, arrange times for them to drive with another responsible adult. But one way or the other, get them as much driving time as possible.

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