Dealing with Nerves

Nervousness in a new driver can be difficult for an experienced driver to deal with. Should I push harder? Should I back off? Should we wait until they are ready?

My advise is to keep it simple, let your child explore driving at their own pace, then gently encourage them to go the next step. Let's face it you're all in this for the long haul, you have 1 year and 100 hours of driving before they can take their test, you don't need to get it all done in a month.

It is important to make sure you find/make time when nothing else is happening so there is no pressure to 'be there on time'. Make the first drive about moving the car rather than driving or going some where.

Start in some quiet area where there is no traffic and you can simply drive around in circles, let them get used to stopping and starting, changing gears, taking left corners slowly, approaching an intersection 'Prepared to Stop'. When they are confident suggest they step it up and turn right or go onto a road that may have a car or two more. Remember to be encouraging at all time. "That's good", "Nice one", "Well done", you can even be encouraging when it goes wrong, "Oops, that didn't go so well, take your time." "Don't worry about upsetting those other cars, you're learning and they know it, take your time and help teach them some patience as well.", "Forget that car beeping, they were a learner once, you just take your time and concentrate on your clutch."

Remember getting it wrong is not the end of the world, if it bothers you it will bother them, if they can see that you are relaxed and not concerned about grinding gears they'll relax and be more likely to get it right. If they see you cringe every time it will stress them out and they are more likely to stall or grind the gears even more. If you are not ready for this part consider lessons first, I'm used to grinding gears, stalling engines and running at curbs, plus I have the benefit of my own pedals so I can prevent bad things happening and I can help them out more and build their confidence quicker, that knowledge can also help increase a learners security as well.

It can be hard to find the right balance between pushing them to the next step and allowing confidence to grow more first and it really is an individual thing. I've had students who can't be stopped and were in-fact over confident (which is far more dangerous really) right through to students who didn't even want to start the car. Gentle cohesion, patience and encouragement will serve you well.

Most importantly don't compare you and your child to other parents and their children, your family is different. Especially don't consider what I get your child to do compared to yourself, I have my own pedals and am trained to do this and do it every day and students don't argue with my, I'm not their parent. The pedals are important because I can continually remind a nervous student that "I can take control at any time, you are safe" until their confidence allows them to move beyond that.

You can do this, it may take time but it is worth it.