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What do we mean by readiness? Readiness is one of those complex words that takes into account a child’s physical, emotional, and maturational skills. A child must possess readiness to handle the responsibilities of a machine that offers freedom, but also the potential to hurt others. Your child is ready to drive when he or she demonstrates the physical skills to drive in a safe manner, the emotional confidence to drive, and the maturity to make good instant decisions. The child must demonstrate the ability to focus, to concentrate, and show good judgment. The child must realize when he or she is too emotionally impulsive or too tired to drive. Maturity means knowing what to do in case of accidents, police pull overs, flat tires, or car breakdowns. These situations should be rehearsed thoroughly in advance.
What you can do about readiness skills. Parents can make sure the adolescent has learned to drive well before turning over the keys. Readiness is also related to general maturity. If the child does not show a sense of responsibility in other areas, the child may not show this sense about handling a car. Because driving gives a child a sense of freedom, you must assess the degree of control your child possesses.
Preventing problems with the car. In general children handle a car better if they have saved for its purchase. Children who are given a car may not understand its value. Those who have worked and saved for at least a part of their car tend to be much more responsible about their vehicle. The child must know that if an accident occurs or the car is misused, access will be restricted or removed until the child matures in attitude or ability. Parents are responsible for the child until the age of eighteen and they have the right to revoke the child’s driving license in most states. The car can also be used as part of a contract with the child; for example, “You can drive if you maintain your grades.” At age sixteen or eighteen this sometimes is a major factor in the child’s good behavior.