Talking with your teen driver is crucial when teaching him or her how to drive safely, but that doesn’t mean starting the conversation is always easy.
You might worry that your teen will take your talks as harsh criticism, or that he or she will ignore the lessons altogether. But if you use the right approach, you can help your teen understand the importance of being a safe driver.
Here are some conversation starters to try out:
- Ask questions. Though you’re the one offering lessons, don’t be afraid to ask your teen questions. You might find that he or she is curious about things you hadn’t thought to go over. Ask questions like: What makes you feel safe or unsafe while driving? How do you feel about driving on your own? What do you find most distracting behind the wheel? Open questions like these will give you more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer and help you understand the issues your teen is focused on.
- Point out safe choices. Positive feedback can boost your teen’s confidence and let him or her know that you recognize where they are improving. This can also be helpful when pointing out mistakes so your teen doesn’t take them personally. For example, “You did a great job stopping at the intersection and waiting for your turn, but you also need to watch for other drivers who might not wait for their turn.”
- Get your teen’s perspective. If you or your teen gets frustrated during a driving lesson, be sure to give your teen an opportunity afterwards to express his or her perspective on the situation. Maybe your teen expected another driver to do something differently, which resulted in confusion or a mistake. Hear your teen out and help him or her work through the scenario again. The more your teen trusts that your goal is to help keep them safe, not just point out the mistakes they make, the more likely your teen will be to share their thoughts and ask for additional help.
- Summarize your lessons. At the end of each driving lesson, be sure to recap what happened, what was learned, and how it applies to safe driving as a whole. This is a great time to find out if your teen has other questions or is curious about how best to handle some of the situations they encountered on the road.