September 5th, 2017

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Do you remember how nervous you were on the day of your driving test? If you do, then you can imagine how your teen might feel as their own test day is approaching. As an experienced adult driver, it’s easy to dismiss your teen’s anxiety. But it’s not your license that is at stake here: it’s theirs.


Your experience also has a positive side: you can use it to help your teen feel more relaxed and prepared for their test. Encouragement, support and help go a long toward making your teen feel confident and ready. Here are five things you can do to help lower test day anxiety.

Give Your Teen Lots of Resources

One way to learn and retain new information and develop new skills is to receive information and practice in lots of different contexts. Begin by making sure your teen understands the driver’s license process, from the first knowledge test to the final road exam.Â

Many resources can be found online. Your teen may have a preference for written content, or videos showing practical skills and scenarios. Find content from reputable sources, and share them with your teenager. Make yourself available to answer their questions along the way.

Reproduce the Driving Test Conditions

One way to effectively prepare your teen for the road test is to practice beforehand. This means acting as if you were a DMV examiner and testing all the different skills that the DMV does. Road test guides should have all the information regarding which skills are tested, including the dreaded parallel park!

As test day draws near, practice this road exam scenario several times. This will help your teen be familiar with the test conditions, which will lower their anxiety on test day. Ideally, practice with the same car and on the same roads.Â

Remember to practice in different weather conditions as well: who knows whether it’ll rain or shine on test day!

Teach Relaxation Techniques

If your teen tends to be nervous, it’s a good idea to teach them a few relaxation techniques. This will help them keep their nerves in check on test day.

Some relaxation techniques include:

  • Taking ten deep breaths through the nose can help you relax and calm down your nervous system.
  • Learning a few yoga stretches you can do quickly before the test.
  • Visualizing the different skills tested, focusing on the more challenging ones.
  • Use aromatherapy and take advantage of relaxing scents, like lavender.

Encourage Them Regularly

Noting the ways your teen can improve is important, but so is encouraging them and reinforcing their self-confidence. This means noticing when they do things right, and acknowledging their progress along the way. Positive reinforcement in the form of small rewards at every step of the licensing process is also an excellent way to encourage them to work hard to succeed.

Support Them On Test Day

There are many ways you can support your teen on test day. Encourage them to eat a nutritious meal (no skipping breakfast!) and to avoid caffeine. Plan ahead and get to the test center at least 15 minutes before the appointment.

Prepare a bag with everything they need: learner’s permit and other documents, ID, sunglasses, a bottle of water. Stress can make people forgetful! If you can, tell them to leave their phone with you so they won’t be distracted by potential phone calls or texts.

Most importantly, remind them that they are perfectly capable of passing the test. They are probably worried about all the ways they can fail; telling them that they are already good drivers can help dissipate some of the anxiety.

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