Tips for Training Teen Drivers

Parenting is a tough job.  As a mom, there always seem to be new challenges to address.  My newest challenge: training my 16-year-old son to drive.

training teen drivers

Photo source: MatanPhoto / Pixabay

It was a huge milestone taking my son for his learner’s permit.  In our state, that means he now has to accumulate 60 hours of driving practice with an adult driver before he can take the driving test to get a driver’s license.

My husband and I have been sharing the driver training duties and generally take turns in the passenger seat when our son is practicing his driving.  We’ve also been collecting information online and from other parents to help us with this new parenting task.

Today I’m sharing some of what we’ve learned as tips for training teen drivers.

  1. Take the teaching aspect seriously.  According to a 2016 research report by Safe Kids Worldwide, 75% of teens reported that the time they spent practicing driving with their parents was the most helpful aspect of learning to drive.  The CDC reports that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens.  It is enormously important to make sure teens are properly trained to handle the responsibilities of  driving.
  2. Before starting, make sure your teen realizes you are not going to argue about your driving instructions.  You’re there to instruct based on your years of experience, and a student driver is there to learn.  Be open to discussion but not argument.
  3. Keep things as relaxed as possible when training teen drivers.  Parents and teens who are new to driver training will be understandably nervous, but learning and driving are both best in a calm environment.  If things get tense with a new driver, stop the driving lesson and try again a different time.  Also, don’t use the driver training time spent together to bring up subjects that may cause tension, such as criticism over grades or other behavior issues.
  4. Be positive, and don’t just focus on things to improve.  Praise your teen for the things done well.  Talk up their progress.
  5. Be specific about things the teen driver needs to adjust.  Not: “You’re always driving too fast.”  Instead: “Note that the speed limit is 25 here, and you need to slow down.”
  6. When answering questions, it’s helpful to say “correct” instead of “right” since that may sound like a direction.
  7. Make it clear up front when an instruction is not urgent.  For example, if you say “go ahead and change lanes,” a student driver may change lanes quickly and less safely than if you preface it by saying “whenever you can, change lanes.”
  8. As a driver gains skill, vary the route you use for training.  According to research reported in an article from The Wall Street Journal, practicing on different roads that are progressively more challenging can help reduce teen crashes.
  9. It’s tempting to keep newbies from being behind the wheel when conditions are less than ideal, but they need to learn to handle all types of driving scenarios.  As they gain experience, practice driving in varying conditions, including darkness, rain, snow, wind, heavy traffic – whatever your new driver may encounter on their own.  Talk in advance about how to handle issues such as slick roads and hydroplaning.
  10. Focus on skills that will make a student driver more safe.  Parents often spend a lot of time on skills that are perceived as tricky, such as parallel parking.  However, The Wall Street Journal article points out: “Most people don’t get killed parallel parking,” says Deborah Hersman, president of the National Safety Council. “The most important things parents can teach teens are how to develop hazard recognition and judgment—making the left turns into oncoming traffic, how to merge on and off highways at high speed.”
  11. Teach defensive driving techniques.  These include leaving a safe distance between cars, checking mirrors regularly to be aware of surroundings, and watching for other drivers’ unsafe actions.
  12. Talk about travel routes and traffic flow to help new drivers navigate smoothly and confidently.  Point out safe ways to deal with unexpected circumstances such as a missed exit or a road closure.
  13. When teens are ready for their driver’s license, consider a parent-teen driving agreement that establishes expectations and consequences.  Find sample agreements from the CDC, Safe Kids Worldwide, or an insurance company such as Travelers, Liberty Mutual, or Allstate.

Do you have more tips for training teen drivers?  Please share them in the comments below!

Teen Driver Training

February lunchbox printables for Valentine’s Day

It’s almost Valentine’s Day!

That means it’s time for some new lunchbox printables. These free lunchbox printables for Valentine’s Day are a fun way to add some cheer to lunchtime in February!

lunchbox printables for Valentine's Day

I don’t know about you, but I always find February to be the most dreary month of the year.  The weather where I live is gray and cold.  The excitement of celebrating Christmas and the new year is long gone.

But then there’s Valentine’s Day right in the middle of the month to spice things up.  So it’s fun to make the most of that little holiday and spread some cheer among loved ones.

These new lunchbox printables for Valentine’s Day are designed to make the dreary month of February a little more fun for kids at lunchtime.  Like my other lunchbox printables, these are a simple way to encourage kids while they’re at school.

All of my lunchbox printables have nine designs on an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper.  You just print out the PDF document, cut them out, and pop them into lunchboxes.  They’re small enough to fit easily into lunches, but there’s a little room to write a personal message and/or sign them if you want.

Valentine's Day lunchbox printables thumbnail Open / download free lunchbox printables for Valentine’s Day (PDF file).

If you like these lunchbox printables for Valentine’s Day, visit my free printables collection for more fun resources.

Looking for more parenting ideas?  Check out my Mom Sense board on Pinterest and pin along with me!

I shared this post, “February lunchbox printables for Valentine’s Day,” at some of these link parties.

Tips for entertaining kids during road trips

With the holiday season coming up, many of us have travel plans.  Traveling with kids can be fun.  It can also be stressful at times.  Planning ahead is key.

When road tripping with kids, I make sure the vehicle is stocked well for the road. Having the necessities on hand always makes the trip go better.

So then how do you fill the time during the drive?

This infographic, reprinted with permission from Wooden Toy Shop, has many tips for entertaining kids during road trips. It’s a helpful tool for planning ahead to keep kids happy with food and games during long drives.

These activities entertain as well as develop important skills while traveling.

Keeping Kids Entertained on Long Car Journeys
This infographic, Keeping Kids Entertained on Long Car Journeys by Wooden Toy Shop, is reprinted with permission.

Looking for more ideas for traveling and entertaining kids during road trips? Check out my travel board on Pinterest!