We are in this together: patience, myself, and my sixteen year old daughter. I never in my wildest dreams thought this time would come so fast. She is so nervous and excited. I am wondering how we got here. She checks her makeup in the mirror and giggles while adjusting the mirrors. She waited so long to get to this point. She was so afraid to drive. She even swore she was just going to ride her bike everywhere. I remember learning to drive myself. Boy, they weren’t kidding when they said time flies. Time doesn’t just fly, it evaporates. I was learning to drive just a few days ago, I could swear. If Jesus is going to take the wheel, now is the time.
All of the horror stories of teenage drivers come to my mind. The good old, “my mom screamed at me until I just got my license” or “my dad put the fear of the road in me,” the brother or sister, boyfriend let me drive or my dad gave me the keys and said, “don’t get caught.” I have actually never heard any good, calm learning to drive stories. I wanted to do this right. I did not want to traumatize my daughter and I wanted her to learn to do this and not to be afraid. So, here I was ready to help my daughter be the best driver she could be and I wanted to make it through this car and mind intact.
Here are some easy tips to help you prepare for your teen driver and to keep your sanity:
Your child must be 15 and a half to take driver’s training.
Your child must take a driver’s training course. This can be taken online very inexpensively ($20) or at school as an elective.
Most insurance companies will ensure student drivers for free until they turn 16 and a half.
Once the class is passed, your child must sign up for behind the wheel training to apply for the permit test. These classes cost approximately $200-$250.
The permit test is approximately $30 and is easily passed if the student studies and prepares themselves. There are several different tests. http://dmv.ca.gov/portal/home/dmv.htm
Once the test is passed, the driving practice begins.
Be calm and patient. Take your driver to a safe, empty place. If there is no fear of demolition, both the driver and the trainer are calmer. Let your student learn the feel of the car. Let them feel how the car moves, stops, and maneuvers.
Do not yell. If the driver is making a mistake, tell them calmly to stop and explain thoroughly what they did and the correct maneuver.
Be explicit. Things that we know, we don’t understand that they don’t know. We take our common knowledge for granted and don’t understand that it is not their common knowledge. Give directions to the smallest detail.
Give the student time to take in the experience. Help them to feel comfortable and confident.
If this experience is overwhelming and frustrating for you, let the driver instructor do the rest of the work. Allow an aunt or uncle, brother or sister (25 or older) to practice driving with your child. Sometimes this allows for more confidence and comfort for all involved.
Once your student becomes more confident driving, they will feel more confident with you in the car as well. You will not feel so worried and frustrated with them in charge of the vehicle.
Remember that there should only be one instructor in the car. Having instructions from several people at once is very overwhelming.
Don’t give up. We learned to drive didn’t we?
So, it has been three weeks and my teen driver is doing great. She is afraid to change lanes and does so a little bit rough. I am terrified of her parking the car in a lot space. She is afraid to move past forty miles per hour and freaks out if cars pass in front of her. My pretend brake is getting worn and it is so hard not to be in control of the situation. However, after six hours of professional training and several driving experiences with mom, dad, and lucky friends, she is doing great. It takes a little longer for us to get anywhere, but seeing the feeling of confidence and pride on her face is priceless. Now, we just have to prepare for our other two kids to get through this.