When your teen begins driving, it can be an overwhelming experience for everyone involved. Since the chance of a wreck is much higher when a driver is inexperienced, you may be overwhelmed by worry. And becoming acquainted with driving and all it entails can be overwhelming for your teen. Many new drivers develop a “highway anxiety,” afraid to travel at high speeds with other cars in such close proximity. This is common, but it’s a good idea to battle the anxiety as soon as possible so your teen will become comfortable driving on highways.
Planning Time for Your Teen to Practice
The best way your teen will learn to overcome highway anxiety is to practice. Start by setting aside a few hours on a certain day to work on curing the anxiety. Let him know that you’re going to help by spending part of a day together practicing. This will give your teen some time to mentally prepare for the practice day and to think of any questions you can answer beforehand.
Additionally, make sure to plan a date and time that will yield minimal traffic. For example, don’t take your teen to practice highway driving during a major holiday or during rush hour. This could overwhelm him even more and worsen the fear. The idea is to gradually build up to more intense highway situations.
Practicing with Your Teen to Overcome Highway Anxiety
As they teach in group therapist school, always have a “Plan B” in situations where anxiety is high. On the day of the practice session, be sure to drive in an area with several exits so he can simply merge off the road if necessary. Additionally, you can plan for your teen to pull over onto the shoulder of the highway in case a breather is needed or if you decide to take a turn at the wheel to demonstrate a technique.
As your teen drives, instruct him on what to do in certain situations. Help him understand how highway traffic works. For example, explain that the right lane, or travel lane, is for steady traffic, and the left lane, or passing lane, is used for passing. Many times, teens are frightened by highway driving simply because they aren’t sure of why traffic flows the way it does or what they should do in particular situations.
If your teen is highly anxious at the thought of highway driving, offer to start the drive yourself for the first 10 to 15 minutes. As you drive, show and tell him that you are relaxed, and explain what you are doing each step of the way.
Controlling the Intensity of Highway Traffic Will Control Highway Anxiety
Your goal is to help your teen arrive at a state of comfort with highway driving. There are two ways of accomplishing your goal. One is to jump right in by scheduling practice sessions several days in a row. The other is to encourage gradually by practicing one or two times a week until your teen reaches a higher comfort level. The latter option is usually better as it helps teens slowly dip their toes into highway driving without scaring them.
It’s common for teens to be anxious about highway driving, but using these methods, your teen should warm up to it in no time. Remember that practice will help more than anything, since hands-on experience is the best way to learn any new skill.
If you have an interested in behavioral therapy and helping others overcome anxiety, visit TherapistSchools.com to find the best schools for your interests.
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