Parent To Parent: Helping Your ADHD Teen Be A Safe Driver
Drivers with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be four times as likely to get into an accident than the general population. That means teaching your ADHD teen to drive presents special challenges, but that doesn’t mean your child shouldn’t learn how to drive a car. Here are a few things to think about to help make sure your child becomes a safe driver.
Are you certain your child is ready? Ask yourself this question — and answer it — honestly, as well as a few others. How are they handling their chores around the house? What are their grades like? Are they respectful, diligent, and honest? If you have doubts, hold off on getting that license. There is no rush, and they can always learn the skill later.
You’ll want to be very clear with your child that driving is not a right, but a privilege, and it’s a privilege you can revoke at any time for any reason. Start talking about it well before the permit stage, and let your child know what you expect in clear terms. Consider implementing a parent-child contract, with well-spelled out stipulations and the penalties for violating them. Maintaining good grades, fulfilling household obligations, and keeping a respectful attitude can all be prerequisites for getting a license and driving the family car.
Get The Right Teacher:
Unless you’re the most even-tempered parent on the planet, you might not want to be the one to teach your child to drive. Professional driving schools have advantages that parents do not. The data is clear: kids who learn from the professionals perform better on driving tests and have fewer accidents than kids who learned from their parents. A number of reputable driving schools have even begun implementing special programs to focus on the unique challenges a teen with ADHD faces in learning to operate a vehicle. But beyond the statistics, just remember what it was like the last time you tried to tell your kid how to do something; if there was eye rolling and sighing, consider hiring some help and save yourself the grief.
The Devil is in the Details:
Just because you can farm out the lesson-giving doesn’t mean you’re off the hook entirely. You are your child’s first teacher, and what you model, they learn. Set the example of a responsible car owner and get your child involved from an early age. Let them help you change oil, rotate tires, refill fluids, and swap out wiper blades. Talk to your child about preventative maintenance schedules and respecting the check engine light, and teach them how cars generally operate.
Executive Functioning Problems:
You already know that ADHD brings with it a host of difficulties and requires parents to make environmental accommodations to support their children. Kids living with the condition have issues with managing their time, paying attention, switching their focus, and remembering details. Safe driving requires higher levels of all these skills. Even if your child is medicated and their symptoms are under control, it’s crucial that they understand that their brain doesn’t always work in the same way everyone else’s does. You don’t outgrow ADHD, and sometimes your brain lets you down. It may be tempting to take them off necessary medication during the summer months when school is out, but your child may need them in order to focus when driving, so talk to your child’s doctor before making any changes.
New drivers all face the same challenges, but our kids have less effective tools to tackle them with, especially if they have ADHD. Help limit those challenges by setting firm rules and making sure your child has the education and resources necessary to be safe behind the wheel.
Car Accidents Happen
Of course, car accidents happen, if you or your teen have recently been involved in a collision, Critical Car Care can help you with your repair needs for any vehicle. Call us now at 661 943-0629 to learn more about our full-service auto repair and get a FREE computerized repair quote.
Additional resources that could be useful to you provided by PsyCom.net.
ADHD Overview: https://www.psycom.net/adhd
Adult ADHD Self-Assessment: https://www.psycom.net/adhd-test
Child ADHD Self-Assessment: https://www.psycom.net/does-my-child-have-adhd