Learning to drive can be stressful, for you and your teen. Without a doubt, there are certain driving situations that can make our anxiety levels rise even higher. Scenarios like merging onto and driving on the highway, driving in the snow, and driving in the rain. Even driving at night can be stressful. As an adult, you might even get anxious in some of these situations yourself!
So, as a parent, what can you do? When teaching our kids to drive, our main job is to coach and educate in a calm and respectful way. If you are one of those adults who gets anxious driving in the snow or rain, put yourself in your teen’s shoes and imagine how they might be feeling doing it for the first time. This can really give you some good perspective and make your coaching more effective.
Another surefire way to reduce stress and anxiety is to plan ahead. Be intentional about your teen’s driving and check-in with them to make sure they are prepared before you even get into the car. The last thing you want is to be reviewing important instructions while your teen is actually driving, especially in a stressful situation.
I recommend sitting down for a few minutes with your teen and talking through some questions and scenarios before your teen begins driving. This will help you gauge how much your teen is processing, retaining and where there may be gaps.
Here are my top questions to ask for each driving situation to help guide your conversations:
Merging onto a highway:
What speed should you be driving at when you merge onto a highway?
How do you know when it’s safe to merge?
What things should you check before merging?
Driving on the highway:
What lanes should you drive in?
What is the left lane used for?
What do you look for when trying to pass someone on the highway?
Driving in the snow:
Where are the defrosters and how do you use them?
Do you have the tools you need to clear off the snow available in the car?
How much snow should you clear off of your car before driving?
Driving in the rain:
How do you change the speed of your wipers?
What do you need to do differently when driving in the rain?
When are the roads the most slippery? By the way, the answer is not 10-15 minutes after it starts raining...roads are most slippery in the first few moments after the rain begins!
Keep in mind that all of these driving scenarios can become more complicated at night. If possible, it’s helpful to make sure your new driver has experience in all of these scenarios during the daytime before driving at night.
If you’d like more strategies and tips for coaching your teen driver, check out my free Parent’s Guide: 5 Solutions for Common Teen Driving Mistakes.
You can also earn more about The Parent’s Survival Guide for New Teen Drivers online course for parents who want to know how to better coach their teens how to drive!