Parents who teach their children to drive save a lot of money on driving lessons. This upside, however, is sometimes countered by a big downside. While you may have thought that teaching your child to drive would be a breeze, you may both end up being grumpy, bad-tempered and argumentative with each other. No matter how well you get along generally, the end of some driving lessons could see you both storm out of the car determined never to speak to each other again. How can you make sure that your good parent/child relationship survives driving lessons?
Set Ground Rules
Before your first lesson, set some basic rules for behaviour in the car. First, your teen needs to understand that you are in charge during a driving lesson, even though you aren't in the driving seat. You are the experienced driver here and, from a safety perspective, your child should be prepared to do what you say without argument.
Warn your child that you may shout or bark at them without meaning to if you need them to do something quickly, like brake or stop in an emergency. Point out that this isn't because you're angry with them; you're just trying to keep them safe.
Tell your child that you need them to listen, not to get distracted and to learn from their mistakes. It's also a good idea to ask your child if they have any concerns about having lessons from you. For example, if your child is worried that you have a short fuse, tell them you'll try not to lose your temper.
Lower Your Expectations
While some teens take to driving quickly, others are not so confident, especially if they are worried about pleasing their parents. Your child may do stuff that you think is stupid — remember, they don't have the experience yet to know all the ins and outs of safe driving — so you shouldn't be overly critical. Think back to when you learned to drive and try to give them some leeway to make mistakes without losing confidence.
Make Yourself Clear
Learner drivers have a lot of things to think about and do, and they may not be able to process instructions unless you are very specific. So make sure that any instructions you give are clear and to the point. For example, if your child is going over the speed limit, don't just tell them to slow down but tell them what speed they should go down to. This will help them learn the rules of the road as well as avoiding arguments over whether you were clear or not.
Have a Debrief
If your driving lessons get a little tetchy, talk to your child when you've both calmed down to work out what went wrong. Listen to any concerns your teen raises so you can act on them in the future. For example, if your child says that all you do is criticise, try to throw in praise during your next lesson whenever they do something right.
While there's no reason why you can't help your child learn to drive, this doesn't work for everyone. If you both find your lessons a bit too stressful, it may be easier to arrange some formal driving lessons for your teen. Local driving instructors could, for example, cover the first few lessons to give your teen some basic experience before you take over the teaching process; alternatively, you could take your child out to give them some extra practice in between their formal lessons.
As a parent of five school-aged children who all have different learning styles, I've had to research the variety of options available for providing each child with additional support at various stages of their education. A private tutor might work for kids who respond to logical or verbal learning styles, but not for kids who prefer intrapersonal or kinaesthetic learning styles. I started this blog to share what I've learned from researching and using a variety of education support options within my own family, such as supplementary video courses, group brainstorming sessions, problem solving games and brain training. I hope you find my blog useful.