Updated: May 24
When parents find out that I offer an online course for parents of teens learning to drive, they often don’t understand why they would need training. After all, as a parent, you already know how to drive and have been doing it for years.
You may even consider yourself a “good” driver. That’s all you need to be able to teach your teen to drive, right?
So, how are those driving lessons going? It’s ok. You can be honest.
As almost every parent in America has realized these past few weeks – teaching your own child is really hard – at any age, but maybe even more so for teenagers, who think they know it all. This is in part because they are your own kids. It seems like children are naturally disinclined to listen to their parents. Even as a trained driving educator, I still faced challenges teaching my own daughters to drive.
It’s also hard because most of us are not trained teachers. Teaching is a very specific skill set, and, more importantly, teaching is different than knowing.
So, if you’re at your wits end trying to teach your teen to drive, and you just aren’t getting through to them, you’re not alone. The good news: It’s not a lost cause. You can teach your own teen. I’m living proof that it’s possible! And so are many other parents that I’ve coached. All you need to do is master some specific teaching skills and strategies.
Here are a few strategies that I tap into on a daily basis (and for more than just driving!):
Coach, don’t tell: This is my motto! It is so important to understand how your tone and delivery impact the reception of information. As parents, we like to tell our teens what to do. When it comes to learning a new skill, however, we need to coach them and give them help.
Ask questions: Questions are an effective strategy to help your teen notice their surroundings. With my students, I’ll ask specific questions to help them realize what they are processing, and that also informs me of what is going on in their head.
Embrace mistakes: It is inevitable that your teen is going to make mistakes. Some bigger than others. Rather than reprimanding the mistakes, use them as learning opportunities. It will also help ease some of the nervousness around learning to drive if you let your teen know upfront that they will make mistakes and that it’s completely normal.
Learning a new skill takes time, practice, and patience. Whether that skill is driving or teaching. Put in the work, and you will both get there! These skills will help you be able to give your teen the information they need in a way they can hear while keeping the learning environment calm.
In the end, it will feel so good to be able to connect with your teen in a way that encourages learning, rather than frustration. Doesn’t that sound nice?
If you’re interested in taking the next step to learn how to teach your teen to drive, check out The Parent's Survival Guide for Coaching New Teen Drivers online course.