Helping Teens Become Better Drivers

Teen drivers tend to be among the least safe demographic on the roads because of their inexperience and other factors that commonly lead to accidents, like texting while driving and general distracted driving. 

Fewer teens are getting their licenses now than in the past, and some of that may be due to the fear of being on roadways. 

It’s important for teens who are able to do so to get their license because it fosters independence, but it’s just as important that they understand the responsibility of being behind the wheel. 

The following are some of the ways to help a teen become a better, more mindful, and responsible driver. 

Go Over Common Accident Scenarios

One way to help your teen build their driving skills and also be more cognizant of the risks of being behind the wheel is to go over the scenarios that most frequently lead to accidents. 

Not all driving situations carry the same level of risk when compared to one another, so help your teen know when they should be especially mindful. 

For example, T-bone accidents are one of the most common and dangerous types of car accidents. 

A T-bone accident can occur when a vehicle fails to yield when coming through an intersection. 

Drunk driving accidents are, unfortunately, another all-too-common situation. Drunk driving accidents lead to more serious injuries than accidents involving only sober drivers. 

Your teen should understand not just the importance of staying behind the wheel but also avoid the roads during times when people are more likely to be intoxicated, such as late nights and on holidays. 

Another common scenario is left-turn accidents when one vehicle doesn’t use a turn signal and then tries to move across traffic too quickly. 

Make Sure Your Teen Is Truly Ready to Drive

Teens are less likely to get their driver’s licenses now than in the past, and there are different reasons for that, including the availability of rideshare services and digital connections to their friends. 

While getting their license is an important milestone, as a parent, you want to make sure your teen really is developmentally ready to drive. 

It’s okay to wait a little while for a teen to get their license if they’re just not mature enough or lack the sense of responsibility required to be behind the wheel. 

Lead by Example

As a parent, one of the most important things we can do in almost every situation is lead by example. You may not realize it, but your teen is always watching you. 

It may not even be obvious to your teen that they’re doing it, but they are, in fact learning from the example you set. 

If you say one thing and do another as far as driving safety and responsibility, they’re going to pick up on that. 

When you’re behind the wheel, make sure you buckle up right away. Put your phone down and slow down. 

Be Aware When Your Child Is Driving

When your child has his or her license and plans to head out the door, you should make sure you’re managing the details of that trip. That means that your teen tells you their destination when they’ll be home and whether or not someone else is going to be with them. 

You should make sure they seem rested and alert because fatigue behind the wheel can be as dangerous as driving while under the influence of mind-altering substances. 

One of the riskiest things you can let your teen do when it comes to driving is allow them to head out with no destination in mind. New drivers should only drive when they have somewhere to go. Joyriding is never a good idea. 

You can work out a contract or agreement with your teen that they should follow when they get their license as well. 

Initially, regardless of the graduated license guidelines where you live, you should only allow your teen to drive during the daytime. Around half of all deadly accidents involving teens occur at night. 

Don’t let your teen drive on highways without supervision for a set period of time, and you really need to require that your teen only drive solo for a while. 

Keep Your Emotions in Check

Teens are known for big emotions, but you may be adding to those with your strong responses. When you’re teaching your child how to drive, make sure that you’re not yelling or letting your emotions get the best of you. 

Stay calm, and that will help your teen do the same. 

Reward Your Teen for Good Driving Habits

If your teen is working hard to be a responsible driver, make sure that you recognize it and letting them know their efforts aren’t unnoticed. 

For example, one way to reward your teen for good and safe driving habits is to gradually lift the restrictions you might have put on them. 

On the other hand, if you find out your teen is engaging in driving activity that isn’t responsible, maybe you suspend their driving privileges or roll some of them back. 

Keep Driving with Your Teen After They Get Their License

Learning to drive takes well takes time. Even after your teen gets their license, you should still accompany them on the roadways when you can. You can gauge where they’re doing well and where they might need work. 

You should continue having regular practice sessions. 

When you’re doing this, focus on a lot of wide-ranging skills and environments. For example, teach them to have situational awareness and practice scanning for hazards as part of developing defensive driving skills. 

You want your teen to start to develop an intuitive understanding of how to be a good driver, which can only happen over time and with different experiences. The more experiences you can provide your teen behind the wheel while remaining in a controlled environment, the better. 

Be gradual with how much freedom you let your teen have when it comes to driving, and look at it as a continual process for them to develop mindfulness and a range of driving skills. 

How to Help Your Child with Virtual Learning

 

Typically a new school year can be stressful, and there are potential risks that parents have to think about.

For example, bus safety and pedestrian safety are big issues parents think about when it comes to the logistic of their child going to school. Now, heading into the 2020-21 year, many parents have a different concern—COVID-19.

States and school districts around the country have opted to take different approaches to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

For example, some states are having kids mostly go in-person. Other districts are doing a hybrid model to keep the number of kids in the building low at any given time. Then, some districts are for at least the first semester, going entirely virtual.

You may also be in a district where there’s a choice parents can make between in-person or virtual learning.

It’s leaving parents wondering how to make it work, not only with their job demands but also how to ensure their child gets a good education when they’re learning from home.

If you’re not an educator, the idea of facilitating your child’s learning can be scary and overwhelming, but the following are tips for parents to help their kids right now.

Get Familiar with the Content and the Technology

Your child’s teacher should be the one leading during remote learning, and you should allow them to do that freely in the way they see fit.

With that being said, it’s likely that your child is going to be doing some of their work independently throughout the day, and they aren’t going to have guided instructional time nonstop.

That’s where you might be needed.

To best help your child in these situations, before school starts, get familiar with the technology your child will be using.

You should also try and familiarize yourself at least a bit with the curriculum. You don’t have to be an expert, but it helps if you have some idea of what your child is learning or studying at any given time.

Knowing what’s happening with their education will also help you hold them accountable.

With all that being said, while you should be available if your child needs you, you shouldn’t be sitting in on their classes. You wouldn’t pop into their regular classes and sit and watch in most cases, so don’t do it with virtual learning. Instead, keep a hands-off approach during instructional time, and only step in when your child is asking for help.

If you want to communicate with the teacher or school staff, do so through email or a phone call and outside of class time.

Schedule and Encourage Intervals

If you’re working from home or you’re staying home from work during this time, you have the opportunity to help your child structure their day.

If you think about what it’s like for children at school, they aren’t engaged in instruction all day. They’re also doing other things, like socializing and going outside to play.

Breaking up learning into intervals and encouraging other activities throughout the day can help your child stay more focused when they are in learning time.

It can help reduce boredom and distractions.

Encouraging physical activity is really important for kids who are learning virtually. There are dedicated chunks of time at school for kids to be active, and they need something similar when learning at home.

Staying physically active is good for not only your child’s physical health but their mental health as well.

Enlist Help

If you’re working full-time, whether at home or not, that could be your biggest stress as far as your kids learning virtually.

Enlist help wherever you can.

Some parents are opting to create their own “pods.” The idea is basically that a group of kids come together for virtual learning, but the circle is still kept small and contained. It would be helpful for all the parents whose kids are in the pod to be likeminded as far as their thoughts on social distancing.

Then, the pod pools its resources to hire a tutor or someone to help guide the kids through their virtual learning.

Depending on the work schedules of parents, you could also have the parents swap off helping the kids throughout the week.

Another option is to turn to a family member to at least be with your child while they’re learning virtually and making sure everything is going smoothly.

Communicate with Your Child’s Teachers

While school may look different for many this year, teachers are still teachers. Your child may be interacting with them over a computer screen, but they are there for guidance and as a resource.

If you feel like your child is having difficulties, whether it’s with the virtual format or with the material itself, don’t be afraid to talk to their teacher.

They may have ideas and ways to help that you wouldn’t otherwise think about.

Create a Dedicated Learning Space

If at all possible, create a dedicated learning space for your child. If you have multiple kids at home doing virtual learning, try to keep them separate.

Choose areas out of the way of the main traffic flow in your house. While natural light can be good, don’t have your child facing a window because it can be distracting.

Make sure the learning space is only for school work, and at the end of the learning day when it’s time to sign off, have your child leave the space so they continue to see it as only for that.

If you can avoid having it where your child sleeps, that’s helpful.

You want an area that’s clean, quiet, and free of clutter.

Finally, don’t forget to take care of yourself during this time. You have a lot on your plate, too so you can help foster a better learning environment for your child by relaxing and reducing your own stress as much as you can as we navigate a new school year.