Written by: Shani Fowler
The driving test has just had its eightieth birthday and doubtless, driving has changed a lot since its inception, maybe more so since you passed your test. Somehow though, it doesn’t seem two minutes since you were strapping your kids into their child or booster seat and now, you have just heard your child utter the words, “I want to learn to drive.” A little dagger of fear strikes us at that point (and not just for the cost of it all!), we worry about them driving on today’s roads! We all want to protect our children and the highways can be a dangerous place, so when they ask if they can learn to drive, recover from your recoil of horror and get some practical help, advice and means to pay underway!
It might be tempting to see how you fair up teaching your child to drive, but it can be a rocky road. Many parents who have done so, report it as being one of the most stressful things they have engaged in; though you might like to see yourself as the perfect driver (it’s everyone else that speeds/goes through red lights/overtakes unsafely isn’t it!), in reality you are probably not that perfect – sorry! And with our imperfections, we are likely to transfer some of the bad habits we’ve have picked up since passing our tests. For that reason, along with perhaps being unfamiliar with methods and needs of training (unless you are a qualified instructor of course), it’s often better to look around and get a reputable qualified instructor.
Finding the right instructor
If you chose to do the tuition, you need to make sure you are fully legal to do so and confident you can do a good job. The danger of doing a bad job is it leading to rocked confidence and them hating their driving experience. Having an instructor who comes highly recommended is a great start. An instructor knows how to take the novice and training them into becoming an adept driver, without shouting and falling out! There is no doubt driving lessons can be a costly affair, but you have to view it as an investment, they are teaching your child to safely navigate the roads and breathing independence into them. Often there are incentives for first time drivers where you might get a couple of free lessons if you book in a block; if this isn’t advertised it’s something you could perhaps negotiate.
Help with the revision
Just because you are not at the wheel with them doesn’t mean you can’t help at all! Your role can be assisting them with revision for their theory test, by going through manuals and dummy tests etc. When they are with you while your driving, point out signs, quiz them – it all helps to stick those signs and their meanings into your child’s memory bank!
Once up and running, your child may come back from some of the lessons disheartened. All had been going to well and now they can’t quite get that reverse parking manoeuvre. This happens to most of us when learning to drive, we think we have it sussed, then suddenly a certain manoeuvre stumps us and instead of reversing round a corner we ended up the other side of the street. Learning to drive is about being able to do exactly that! Getting it wrong helps us get it right – remind them that practice does make perfect and they will get the hang of it in time.
Test date and getting over failure
When the big day of the test arrives, as excited as you are for them, try not to overplay it. Anyone who says they didn’t have the teeniest of nerves during a driving test has to be joking! If they fail the test, have a look at what went wrong but keep the buoyed up, reminding them only a few get it right in the first test. Get the next one booked as soon as possible and tell them to treat that one as a dummy run.
Once they have got through the test and the euphoria passes, they will inevitably want to drive. Suggest going out with them a couple of times first. When you have just been given a licence to drive, it can be daunting to begin with, instil in them that they will always be learning. Even the most prolific of drivers never stop learning; there will always be a new situation ahead! Finally, when they get their own vehicle and gain their new found confidence, it’s time for a few favours to be returned, let them play at being a taxi to you for a change!