It may sound like it is a long time before you have a child who is ready to drive. It’s not. This happens quickly so you need to be prepared.
There are good things and bad things about teens driving. The bad part is you are worried he will drive too fast, hurt himself or someone else, get a ticket, smash the car or do something illegal. The good part is that a teen usually wants to drive so much that you have some power over his behavior that you haven’t had for a long time. Take advantage of this time.
This is a time to make sure that if you threaten consequences, you also must follow through. Actually, you should be doing this all along, not just now. He needs to learn that if he doesn’t do what you say, there will be consequences. That shows him what you will do when he is driving. Start having him help with keeping the car clean; that can be one of the trade-offs for using the car.
It may seem like he is far from 16 and far from wanting to get his driver’s license. It isn’t. He already is planning on it and looking forward to it.
He is watching how you drive and learning from you today. He is listening to how you respond to other drivers on the road. You already are his most important driving instructor. Make sure you are teaching him exactly what you want him to learn.
Respect his need for increasing independence; this is a constantly changing issue as he grows. Take off some of the rules but don’t just let him have complete freedom just because he is a new driver. Go slowly.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and director of Parenting Matters Foundation. The foundation publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. Reach Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 681-2250.