It’s time to teach your teenager to DRIVE! (Take a deep breath!) You’ve explained how to drive, shown him how you do it, let him sit behind the wheel, pull into the driveway and drive down the street you live on. You’ve even sat rigid with tension in the passenger seat with your foot on an imaginary brake, as they cruised home from a mile down the road.
Then, you provided positive feedback: you like how he positioned his hands on the wheel (even though he gripped it really tightly) and you are impressed with his concern about crossing the center line (but are a little worried he might hit a mailbox or a parked car!).
What next? More Cs!
1. Committed vs. compliant – you want your new driver to be a defensive driver all the time, not just when you are in the car, or when he sees a police car up ahead.
· Make your own commitment. – Show that you are a defensive driver at all times.
· Making sure your people are committed to the cause. – Talk with your teen about the benefits of good driving behaviors and the consequences of slacking.
· Doing what is expected all the time and not just when someone is looking. – Model this behavior.
· Setting expectations and getting people to commit – Agree together to drive defensively and resolve to remind each other when you are not, and what will happen if you don’t live up to the promise.
2. Compare the difference
· Gain buy-in. – Talk about your experience learning to drive, how long it took, who was involved, how nervous you were, share your story.
· Don’t expect people to think the same way you do – we’re all different. Maybe your new driver wants to drive circles in a parking lot, drive mom’s car instead of dad’s, or do some practice in a parking lot before they hit the streets. Maybe it’s not how you did it, but that’s okay.
· Leave people feeling it was their idea. – Ask the driver to decide what routes to take for practice, what time of day he wants to drive and when you can talk about tweaks to their form, or maybe he wants to practice driving with someone that’s not you!
· Leave people feeling encouraged not discouraged. – Always end your practice sessions and discussions on a positive note.
3. Control system
· The importance of planning. – Determine how you need to prepare for practicing driving, then how much you’ll practice and when so everyone knows what to expect and how to prepare.
· The importance of follow through on all you do. – Always reinforce good behaviors and make corrections where needed.
· You can’t be upset with things you allow. If you speed while you are driving, or you don’t follow through on your promises, you can’t be upset when your teen does the same!