Learning to Drive how to Teach your Teen about Road Rage

The things your teen should learn from you about driving don’t end with knowing the written and road tests. That part’s only the beginning. Remember, the teenage years are fraught with emotion and angst. Do you really want your teen taking all that pent up frustration or anger on the road? That’s why it could be a matter of life and death for you to teach your teen to avoid road rage.

Time management and responsibility

A lot of road rage really starts because you’re the one who’s running late. When the clock’s against you, it can seem like the whole world’s conspiring against you.

So teach your teen from the start that driving is not a race. It he’s into videogames, you’ll have to make it really, really clear that driving isn’t about scoring points and coming in first. It’s a responsibility, not a game.

This approach really should start a lot earlier than driving age. Make a clear separation between entertainment and responsibilities, and make it clear that the way to become an adult is to accept responsibilities without griping. That way, you can make driving into a privilege that lets him take on the responsibility of ferrying other siblings to and from school and appointments.

Because he’s learned about time management, he can deal with the extra responsibility without usually running late. He’s learned that he doesn’t need to keep his pedal to the metal to make it on time. He’s even learned that if he arrives so early that he’d have to have been speeding, he’s broken his responsibilities. When your teen’s not trying to catch up with the clock or beat it, there’s a lot less frustration.

You’ve also been understanding about things which really are beyond his control. That way, he’s also a lot less frustrated when he runs into something that makes him unavoidably late, like the detour that takes him ten miles out of his way. That’s always a good thing when he’s driving.

Emotional control

You know it’s not going to be a good day when your teen slams his bag down on the back seat before slamming the door behind him on his way out. It’s really not a good way to start a driving lesson. Actually, it’s probably not a good day for your teen to be out driving on the road at all.

However, no matter what kind of state your teen arrives in when he’s ready for a driving lesson, the worst thing you can possibly say to your teen is to calm down. It’s infuriating and dismissive at the same time. Even if you know what happened in the background to cause that mood, well, how good are you at just cutting off your own anger and frustration on a bad day?

Your best bet is to tell him directly that right now isn’t going to be a good day for a driving lesson after all. Make sure the car keys never even make an appearance! Just say it calmly, tell him you’re available to talk when he’s ready to talk about it, and step out of the car. After he calms down, take up the lesson again as if nothing had happened.

It’s not going to be an easy thing to do and it’s going to get worse before it gets better, but it’s going to be worth it in the long run. That’s because you’ve just demonstrated two very important things to your teen. You’ve shown him that anger and driving don’t mix. You’ve also shown him that it’s possible to remain calm when you could be getting upset.

As a bonus, you’ve given him an alternative way of dealing with his anger, by suggesting that he talk to you. Maybe he’ll end up talking to someone else, but that’s still okay. Talking’s a lot better than driving when mad.

Later on, when he’s learning to drive and something gets him really mad on the road, the same lesson applies. He can pull over until he’s less upset. If he has to, he can talk out his anger with you.

If he’s angry because the other driver really was reckless, you can encourage him to call the police and report the driver. Tell him that in these cases, it’s useful to the police to get all the information they can, like the licence plate number. Trying to concentrate on these kinds of details will also help your teen to get a handle on his emotions.

It’s not all about your teen

Something changes when you get behind the wheel of a car. It’s easy to forget that other drivers are normal people, just like you and your teen. They’ve got lives of their own. It’s not all about making your life miserable on the road.

So you’ve got to help your teen remember that there’s a real person behind the wheel of every other car out there. You’ve got to help him make the extra mental step. The next time someone cuts you off, did he really do it on purpose, or did he just not see you? The next time you end up behind someone who’s not doing ten miles above the speed limit, are they holding you back on purpose, or just driving safely at a legal speed?

After all, all those drivers out there are just like your neighbours. Would your teen even consider going around cussing out his neighbours or punching them because they’re not walking fast enough on the sidewalk? So what makes it right if you’re on the road?

Set an example

Above all, remember that your child leans more from watching how you do things than from anything you can possibly say to him. Always practice what you preach!

This has to start long before your teen ever reaches driving age. If you wait until then, it’s much too late.