Bonding with your teenager can be tough. As parents, we’re often looking for ways to get to know our kids better. Have you ever thought of giving your child driving lessons as an opportunity to build your relationship with your teen – and if not, why not?
Driving Lessons: The Opportunity
When your teenager learns to drive, he or she is learning a complex skill that can take years to master. You may choose to enroll your teen into professional driving lessons. However, driving lessons generally do not cover the hours of practice required to prepare your teen for a lifetime of driving. Therefore, it’s important to spend time in the vehicle with your teen during their Learner’s stage, whether they receive professional driver training or not.
Have you ever had hours alone with your teen before – in a scenario where they WANT to learn and earn their independence? This is an opportunity that doesn’t present itself often. You need to be careful how you handle it! If you observe closely, you can learn how your teen responds to certain situations and how they learn new skills. As a parent and mentor, you can use this as an opportunity to provide guidance to your teen while driving. You may even learn more about how they think.
How to Bond During Driving Lessons
Don’t push their buttons
If there’s one thing that seems to be a common trait in teenagers, it’s that they do not like to be bombarded with questions or advice. Instead of rattling off advice, try to observe and correct mistakes. Ask them “why” they tend to do things a certain way. Most importantly, try to allow there to be quiet moments between speaking. Give your teen space to open up to you as they learn to drive.
Making it a positive experience
If your teen is excited, try to match their energy! If you’re afraid, try some of the tips we’ve provided in our blog about staying calm while on the road with your teen. Or, if your teen is frustrated or unhappy, take a break and go get a treat. Give them the opportunity to open up to you about why they’re not at their best.
Most importantly, try to end every lesson on a positive note. Remember the saying “don’t go to bed angry”? Leaving the lesson on a bad note can close the door to future bonding moments in the car with your teen. Don’t forget to chat about what your teen did well on at the end of each lesson to finish with some positivity, even if things didn’t go as planned.
Keep the goal in mind
This is a unique opportunity to bond with your teen. However, it may not necessarily be the time to bond with them about off-topic things, like friends or school. Use it as an opportunity to talk about safe driving; how they plan to use their new independence when they get their license, where their strengths and weaknesses lie, and how they can have pride in their driving ability without doing anything unsafe on the road. This isn’t the time to be the “cool” parent, if you want your teen to be authentic in these conversations, you have to be authentic too. Open up to them on what your own “learning to drive” experience was like. Tell them about the moments in your life when you were pushed outside your comfort zone while driving.
Time to get started!
If you’re presented with the opportunity to bond with your teen through driving lessons, seize it! Make time for planning your teen’s driving lessons – use a tool like Teach Your Teen to Drive to build your lesson plan and guide you along the way.