You taught your kid how to walk with no problems. When it came time to go to school, you showed him how to add and subtract with ease. But now that your child is approaching the magic age that suddenly allows him to drive, it’s time for you to teach him something that’s not quite as simple. Operating a vehicle is multi-tasking at its finest, and even old-timers can’t always do it effectively. So how are you supposed to instruct your teenager, that won’t even clean up his room when asked, how to do it?
1. It’s What You Do, Not What You Say
With teenagers, it doesn’t really matter what words are coming out of your mouth unless you back them up with actions. This is especially true when it comes to driving. You can preach all of the rules of the road to your teen until you lose your voice, but he will still pay more attention to what you do when you are behind the wheel. After all, if you break one of the rules, it must be okay for him, right?
2. Answer the “Why?”
Just like when your kid was a toddler, the all-important answer to the question “Why?” really matters. It’s not enough to tell your teen that he needs to keep both hands on the steering wheel: You need to explain that if he doesn’t, he won’t be able to control the car successfully in an emergency situation. Once your teen actually understands the reasoning behind all of the driving rules you give him, he is more apt to follow them.
3. Be a Pollyanna
Sometimes it seems like all you ever say is, “Don’t do that!” and “No, that’s not right!” Instead, try to focus on the positive. Even though your teen seems like he doesn’t care about what you think of him, deep down, he thrives on your pride for him. So let him know how awesome he is when he follows the speed limit, even in the school zone. Tell him good job when he uses his blinker before switching lanes. He will crave your positive words and try to earn them every chance he gets. Plus, teaching him to drive will be much more pleasant experience for both of you.
4. Use Scare Tactics
It may be a cheap shot, but it is an effective one. And when it comes to your teen’s safety, you need to take advantage of everything at your disposal. In order to really stress to your teen the importance of what you are telling him, you need to put a little fear in his bones. Let him know that out of every five teenage deaths, one of them is from a car crash, making it the leading cause of death for his age group (15-19 years). Inform him that over 5,000 teenagers die while driving (or riding with a teen driver) each year, and 56% of these teens were not wearing seatbelts.
To top it all off, really ingrain the importance of safe driving into his head by showing him graphic images of car crashes caused by teen drivers. If that doesn’t scare him into driving safely, you might want to withhold the licensing process until it does.
Guest post by Drivers Ed by Improv.