Most parents worry about their kids reaching the age where they can legally drive, but it’s especially worrisome for those whose children live with ADHD, because the very functions they need to perform behind the wheel are often the same ones that are affected most by the disorder. Keeping our kids safe on the roads is a major priority, yet many parents are unsure of how to go about it once their child gets a license.
Fortunately, there are several ways you can help your teen learn to be safe. It starts with a good plan, some ground rules, and a bit of patience and trust. Here are some of the best ways to help your teen get comfortable--and safe--behind the wheel.
Teach them early
While your teen won’t be able to get a learner’s permit until he’s 15 or 16 (depending on the state you live in), many experts agree that teaching kids about the rules of driving at a younger age will help them absorb the information and take it more seriously. Start talking to your teen about the responsibilities of driving when he’s about 14, and let him know the rules around this time, too, so they won’t come as a surprise down the road.
“Tell your child you won’t sign for the learner’s permit unless he or she agrees to abide by certain guidelines,” says psychologist Nadine Lambert.
Because ADHD can affect driving habits, it’s important to talk about how your child will behave once he has control of the car. This means thinking ahead when it comes to music--if it distracts your child, set guidelines about listening to it while driving--and the number of people he can have in the car with him once he gets his license. The fewer, the better.
Help him learn
You might consider hiring a service that can help your child become a better, more informed driver--attendance at these schools can reduce your insurance payments in most states--but it’s also good to get in drive time with him yourself. Teaching your child how to handle the car will show him that you’re serious about his safety and the rules, and it will give you bonding time as well.
Set limits and give rewards
Children and teens with ADHD often have trouble controlling their impulses, which can get them into trouble at school and at home. If your teen exhibits good behavior, reward him with so many minutes of driving practice time per week. Let him know, however, that he is never to get in the driver’s seat unless you or another adult is present, and limit practice time to help him stay focused on his other responsibilities.
Make sure treatment is available
Different people react to ADHD in different ways, and treatments vary due to this. Make sure your child has the right medications or therapy sessions before he begins driving, as this can help reduce the chance of distractions and accidents.
It might be helpful to have your teen keep a driving diary in which he can write down what his experience was like each time he was behind the wheel. This can help weed out distractions and help you understand what he sees and feels while he’s driving.
As with any young driver, the rules about safety need to be repeated and enforced strictly, including no texting while driving (which is illegal in many states), wearing a seatbelt at all times, absolutely no driving while under the influence, and following your own rules regarding how many passengers can be in the car.
With some guidelines and a little planning, you can make sure your child is safe every time he’s behind the wheel.
Written by Mark Conner
Mark created http://drivesafely.info/ after his son, who has ADHD, started driving. He hopes the site will encourage teens and adults to make good decisions behind the wheel.
Photo via Pixabay by Unsplash