Every parent goes through many mental struggles once they realize their teenager is about to start driving. When faced with the image of your “baby” sitting behind the wheel, making life and death decisions with their driving, it’s natural to have an onslaught of difficult emotions that can adversely affect the way you react to this stressful situation. The best way to handle your concerns about your teen driver is to attempt to influence their behavior behind the wheel. Here are five tips to help you equip your teen with the knowledge, and incentive, to drive better.
Lead by example and observe all the same rules that you want them to follow. Doing so will help them respect you and your rules more and will encourage them to follow those rules even when you aren’t around. If you set a good example to your teen while behind the wheel, you can expect them to take your advice more seriously. It doesn’t matter that you are a more experienced driver than they are, teenagers don’t always reason on those terms, and you should always practice safe driving techniques to teach your child best practices before they begin driving.
Safe driving shouldn’t require any more reward than being alive and accident-free. With teens, however, you’ll sometimes have to offer incentives to help them avoid making costly mistakes. Rewarding your teen in a small way when they exhibit invasive maneuvers in the face of an accident or exercise good decision making skills behind the wheel will encourage the same behavior in the future. Your teen may also respond well to a reward system that allows them to a reward if they avoid accidents or bad driving behavior for a pre-determined amount of time.
It’s not always enough to tell your teen driver not to do something, sometimes you also need to show them why they shouldn’t do it. Presenting an example can make a greater impact than just telling them to avoid A, B, or C. Find teaching materials that show your teen why certain activities and decisions don’t mix well with driving. Search online for examples and teaching tools to enlighten your teen driver on the dangers of unsafe driving.
Just as good behavior should be rewarded, bad behavior should have consequences. Let your teen know before they take off down the street what consequences they will face for bad behaviors. You should remember, consequences only work when you stick by them, so be sure you are prepared to enforce them.
Most auto insurers offer a nice discount for teens who keep at least a B average in high school or college. College kids typically need to take at least twelve credit hours to be eligible for the discount.
If you treat your teen’s driving privileges as a privilege and work to communicate with them through positive feedback and consequences, you can influence your teen’s driving without drama, resistance or stress.