Driving is one of the most liberating and important privileges for a teenager; a long-awaited milestone! When your teenager gets that first license picture taken, all a parent can think is “Oh crap. What have I done? Insurance? Gas? Texting and driving? AHHHH!” Something else to consider, developmentally, is that two things are competing for attention in a teen’s brain right now- thrill seeking and risk taking.
Check out some tips for keeping your teen safe on the road while maintaining your sanity.
- Practice deep breathing techniques or other stress management techniques. You’ll need it.
- Set clear expectations from the beginning. Additionally, decide the consequence for not meeting those expectations and be consistent.
- Take every opportunity to let your child drive while they have their permit. This is your time for one-on-one mentoring. They’ll be nervous enough to heed your wisdom and will ask questions about the various traffic scenarios. This is huge. It’s nerve-wracking, yep. You will slam on your air brake so much you will be sore. You’ll grab that little handle above the window and cuss. It’ll happen. It’s a right of passage! Endure it!
- Require their location at all times. There are apps to help monitor location, speed, history of routes and even alert you in case of accident or emergency. You can’t put a price on peace of mind.
- Don’t text them. Your teen will be tempted to text you back. Go old school and call. Like the ’90s, only no 20-foot coiled cord.
- Have a spare key and do random car checks. You’re helping keep them accountable, remember? Cars are a great place to stash fun things like alcohol, drugs, whatever. This is a matter of safety.
- Be swift with consequences for safety issues like speeding, drug or alcohol abuse, anything that can endanger themselves or someone else. When warranted, temporarily losing their driving privilege will speak volumes.
- Have them check in with you, like, a million times.
- No speeding. No speeding. One more time, no speeding.
- Seatbelts! Seatbelts! One more time for good measure, Seatbelts! And that goes for EVERYONE in the car.
- Trust your instinct. If something isn’t “sitting” well with you, investigate it. Driving is a privilege with great responsibility. It’s also an effective bargaining tool. #advantage
- See #1.
Your teens need you! Driving is a game changer. (No more lame store runs for you, mom and dad!) Stay close. Help them navigate this new skill and pretty soon they’ll be driving you on road trips so you can watch Netflix.