Teaching someone to drive: how to survive practising with parents

It’s not easy, teaching someone to drive. That’s why it’s best done by a professional driving instructor. The trouble is, to learn effectively it helps to reinforce what you have learned by practising driving between lessons.

Sometimes, parental tuition is one of the hardest parts of learning to drive. Nobody likes being told what to do or criticised by a parent. And no parent likes the thought of a smash in the family car. Done badly, a parent teaching someone to drive can be a misery for everyone.

Done the right way – by both learner and parent – it can make a big contribution to your progress.

When being supervised, you should…

  • Practise the kind of skills your instructor says are appropriate for the level you have reached.
  • Plan what you are doing before you set off. Discuss where you will go and which manoeuvres you will practise.
  • Don’t take comments or criticism as a personal attack. Your parents are trying to help you pass your test, even if they have an annoying way of showing it!
  • Listen, but listen critically. Your parents have probably been driving a long time, and have a lot to teach you. But it’s unlikely they know as much as your driving instructor. If their advice contradicts the instructor’s, 999 times out of a 1000 the instructor will be right.

When supervising a learner, your parents should…

  • Have a chat with your instructor. That way they can be sure to work on the right things.
  • Be patient. They need to understand that you won’t drive as well as a fully qualified driver, and you need their support.
  • Build confidence. It’s right that your parents should point out mistakes, but they need to make any criticism constructive. You should always feel that they are in your corner.
  • Stay calm. Anxiety is catching. If your parents are on edge and constantly stepping on an invisible brake pedal, it will put you on edge too. Ask them to be the kind of parent they wanted (and maybe didn’t get!) when they were learning to drive. Mum and dad had L-plates once, and should remember what it was like.

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