02/20/2013 05:50 pm ET Updated Apr 22, 2013

How Parents Can Prepare to Teach Their Kids to Drive

Parenthood has often been called the hardest job there is. Guiding a boy or girl through their childhood, into their teens and then onto adulthood can make any seasoned adult nervous, especially when some of the biggest rites of passage have to be tackled: a first job, the 'sex talk' and the inevitable challenge of getting behind a wheel.

Getting Ready to Ride

Fortunately, parents need not shoulder this burden on their own. High schools and certified driving schools offer driver"s education courses, so the conscientious parent will ensure that their child signs up for this when all relevant parties feel that the time is right. Some children will want to pick up the keys as soon as the conversation starts; others will be petrified at the responsibility of controlling a car. Each child is different, and parents should be sensitive to their kids' readiness.

Show Them The Way

Parents should also lead by example, and the best way to ready yourself to teach your teen to drive is so simply be a good driver yourself. Don't text and drive, stop at stop signs, observe the speed limit and when you inevitably get pulled over or cut off, don't lose your cool. Talking to kids about all this is one thing, but if they see you do it -- their parent, the most important and influential figure in their young lives -- they'll know that it's for real.

Teaching By Talking

But talking is vitally important, too. There are some things you can't simply act out -- proper mechanical and legal maintenance of the vehicle, for example. Whoever is behind the wheel, whether it's you or your teenager, communication is key. If you're driving on your own, think of how you could explain the things that you're doing, and what you're keeping in mind, if your child were in the car with you.

Planning is Preparation

To that effect, it will help to plan out how you intend on helping your teenager. Think about what you'll cover in your time together, the important takeaways of handling the car, the rules of the road, the rules of thumb and your own insight as a driver. Be wary of improvising, or overloading your child with tips and ideas. No matter how enthusiastic they might be to start, they will likely be very nervous once they actually have the wheel in their hands. Having a lesson plan, as it were, will assuage them as much as it will you.