Graphic of a student driver with a driving instructor

How to Help Your Teenager Learn to Drive

Tips for Parents Teaching Their Teen How to Drive a Vehicle

Learning to drive can feel both exciting and nerve-wracking for teenagers. Parents can help their teens become good drivers and make learning how to drive a fun experience by helping them along the way. Here are a few tips to follow to help your teenager learn how to drive a vehicle.

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Driving instructor teaching a student how to drive a car

Set a Good Example

Everyone knows the phrase, “actions speak louder than words”. As a parent, you are a role model for your teen. Even as young toddlers, your child will notice your driving habits, such as whether you use your seat belt, follow the posted speed limit signs, and keep a safe distance away from vehicles. By practicing safe driving, you are indirectly teaching your child some rules of the road before they even sit behind the wheel.

Stay Calm and Patient

When you first learned how to drive, you likely made some mistakes. Your teen is likely to also make some mistakes behind the wheel. When this happens, stay calm and patient. Gently explain what they did wrong so they can correct it. Overreacting or getting angry at mistakes can cause your teen’s confidence to plummet and can make the experience feel frustrating.

Decide on a Route Before Your Teen Drives

Before going out to practice with your teen decide on a route. If they are new to the vehicle, take them to an empty parking lot and have them practice maneuvers with no cars or pedestrians around. As they get more comfortable, ease them into driving around the neighborhood. As their confidence rises further, ease them into more challenging routes, such as at busy intersections or on the highway.

Be Clear with Your Instructions

Learning how to drive can be stressful for many teens. Receiving unclear instructions can only make the experience feel more stressful. When directing your teen on what to do, be clear with your instructions. For example, your teen may ask if they did something correct. Instead of saying “right”, respond with “correct” as “right” can be interpreted for “turn right”. If your teen needs to brake, tell them to “brake” rather than “be careful” or “slow down”. Reminders to stay alert to avoid “tunnel vision” will also be helpful for your teen.

Close up of a "Please be patient, student driver" sticker

Practice During the Day and Night

Practice makes perfect, and your teen will need a lot of practice. This includes both practicing during the day and at night. However, you will need to be mindful of the amount of practice you’re giving them. You should never plan hours of practice into a small number of days. Instead, they should practice over multiple days and have their time behind the wheel limited for each session. Limiting the session to no more than an hour is recommended for teen drivers. If your teen feels tired and wishes to stop, stop the session and continue next time.

Enroll Your Teen in Driving School

While a huge part of learning to drive comes from the parents, professionals at driving schools can help your teen perfect their driving abilities. They may spot some mistakes that you didn’t notice and can answer any questions your teen has. If your teen is ready to learn how to drive and is not yet enrolled in driving school, be sure to sign them up as soon as you are able.

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