Five Tips for Helping Your Teen Feel More Confident Behind the Wheel

Getting to drive a vehicle is exciting for a teen, but just because it’s exciting doesn’t mean it isn’t stressful. Getting behind the wheel of a car for the first time can be scary!
The last thing you want is for your teen to feel uncomfortable and scared on the road. That’s just asking for trouble. It’s your job as their parent to make them as comfortable as possible behind the wheel.
If you have a teen that’s just learning how to drive, follow these tips to boost their confidence when they hit the road.

Practice Makes Perfect

When it comes to driving a car, practice makes perfect. That means taking every opportunity you can to put your teen behind the wheel and ride along with them in the passenger’s seat.
Prepare your route ahead of time so you can provide them with a challenge without overwhelming them. Stay in the neighborhood and focus on stopping at stop signs one day, and hit the highway the next.
Preparing means making sure they’re ready to take the test too! Online practice permit tests can make preparing for the test a lot easier, but they can also make your teen feel more confident after they have passed the test. By revisiting a practice test from time to time, your teen will get more comfortable with the rules of the road while they’re driving.

Make Sure Your Directions Are Clear

Clear directions are important. They are important in the classroom, and they are important at work. Without clear directions, students might complete their homework incorrectly, or a coworker may not get a project done on time.
Not having clear directions in the car can be even more disastrous, because unclear directions can result in an accident. Especially if you have a nervous kid behind the wheel.
For example, instead of saying “watch out,” try saying “brake” instead. It leaves no confusion as to what they should do while they’re behind the wheel.
Be careful telling your teen that they are right. If you do, they could think they are supposed to turn right! Instead, when they do something right, use the word “correct” to eliminate confusion.

Role Play

Role playing is a surprisingly effective way to help teens prepare for the future. It has been used effectively by counselors and parents when it comes to keeping teens from getting involved with drugs, but it can be very effective when it comes to driving too.
There is a lot that can panic your teen on the road. From an oncoming emergency vehicle to slick roads, it can be helpful to talk through what they should do before it happens. They may still experience a brief moment of freaking out, but then they’ll be able to remember your conversation so they’ll know exactly what to do.

Lead by Example

Parents are important role models. Your child watches everything you do, even when your kid becomes a teen and acts like they’re too cool for school.
That means you need to model good driving behaviors:

  • Always drive the speed limit
  • Demonstrate safe driving distances between other vehicles
  • Always wear your seatbelt
  • Pay attention to all signs
  • Obey all traffic laws

One of the biggest things you can model for your child is focusing on the road. That includes not checking your cell phone. Demonstrate how important it is for them to avoid playing with the radio dial or returning that text message by not doing any of those things yourself.

Stay Calm

Your teen will make mistakes. That’s part of the learning process! When they do, don’t make the mistake of freaking out.
Being in a car with a teen can be scary, but staying calm is extremely important. If you demonstrate confidence in your child by not yanking the wheel every time they go to turn or stomping on the invisible brake every time they need to come to a stop, you’ll demonstrate your confidence in their abilities. The more confidence you show in their driving, the more confident they will become.
That might take some preparation on your part. Take a few deep breaths, relax your muscles, and know what kinds of things are you are willing to let go before you step foot in the car.
Confidence is half the battle when it comes to operating a vehicle. Make sure your teen has the confidence they need to be successful and safe on the road by following these tips.