When you have a new driver in the family, one of the most important things to do is raise their confidence level. While you don't want them to do anything foolish like trying to text and drive or driving in weather conditions that are unsafe, you do want to raise their confidence and inspire them to feel comfortable behind the wheel. These five strategies will help your new driver feel more confident, enabling them to tackle on-the-road challenges without a problem.
1. Stay calm.
When you ride together, resist the urge to slam your foot into the invisible (and absent) brake on your side of the car or to reach for the wheel every time your child drifts a few inches away from the center of the lane. When you are calm and confident in your child's driving abilities, you'll quickly discover that their confidence increases, too! An uneasy parent, however, can destroy a child's confidence behind the wheel and make it hard for them to manage unexpected challenges.
2. Look for opportunities to build their experience without overwhelming them.
Do you need something from the gas station at the bottom of the hill? Send your new driver to pick it up. Need the car moved from the garage to the driveway? Your new driver can take care of that! Allowing your new driver to take care of small errands accomplishes two key things. First, it gives your new driver plenty of experience with small trips when you're still close by and can offer advice or help if needed. Second, it shows them that you believe them capable of taking care of those trips. Not only that, it frees you up to take care of other things instead of having to run out every time you need to make a short trip. What could be better?
3. Build experience in many different areas.
Let your new driver have the chance to drive in the rain. If ice and snow is common in your area, take them out on the road when conditions are starting to become difficult to navigate. Look for opportunities to go driving together at night. The more time your new driver spends on the road in different conditions, the easier it will be for them to tackle those conditions when they're on their own and they have no other choice. Time of day matters, too: early experience may be best built when the roads are as empty as possible, but your new driver needs to know how to navigate rush hour, too.
4. Help your child solve common driving problems.
Everything from an oncoming emergency vehicle with nowhere to go to lousy road conditions at a moment when you can't pull off the road can feel like a crisis to a new driver. By role-playing these situations, even if your child doesn't actually experience them, you can build confidence for when those moments do occur.
5. Give it time.
Some people take to driving as though they've been waiting their whole lives to get behind the wheel. Others struggle to develop that much-needed confidence. Give your child time to build their skills and develop that confidence in their own way. It may take 3 years and 20,000 miles or more for your child to build their confidence, if they're close to the average. Letting them have time to develop it will go a long way toward increasing their capability.
Your new driver is learning every time they get behind the wheel. The more opportunities they have to practice, the more confident they will become! Allow them the freedom to explore the roads both supervised and unsupervised, letting them try out their new skill to help their confidence soar.