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The best way to teach a teen driver: Lead by example

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

Lead by example.

One of the most basic parenting rules that applies to all areas of life and most certainly to driving.

Smiling dad and teen son leaning on hood of car

How are you doing when it comes to this? If you think you’re falling into the camp of “Do as I say not as I do” it might be time to make some adjustments.

The next time you are driving, take notice of any bad habits you’ve picked up over the years. Practice correcting them. I’m not saying you need to be perfect, but you should definitely make sure that you are following the same rules that you are setting for your kids.

When in doubt, ask yourself: Would I want my teen doing this while on the road? Here are a few common habits that are worth correcting:

Stay off your phone!: This one is a no brainer, but I still see so many people checking their phones while driving. This is a serious deadly hazard, and if you are still one of those people who can’t break this habit, now is a perfect time. Remove the temptation by putting your phone out of sight (in your pocket, purse, glove compartment). Make your teen do the same when they drive. This is not a habit you want your child to pick up.

Road rage: Do you ever find yourself getting so angry at other drivers that you’re yelling, whether inside your car or actually outside of your car window? If the answer is yes, it’s time for a change. Road rage doesn’t do anyone any good. Remember those breathing strategies we talked about a few weeks ago? Now would be a good time to practice those. Taking a few deep breaths rather than reacting will be beneficial for your health and also set a good example for your teen.

Both hands on the steering wheel: I bet many of you are not putting both hands on the wheel when you’re least not all the time and probably not at 9 and 3. This may not seem like the most important thing to remember, but it’s a habit that will help you keep better control of the vehicle. We want our teens to learn to drive using two hands. This is the safest position for a new driver.

Follow the rules of the road: The longer we drive the more lax we can get with following some of the basic rules of the road, like using our turn signals, coming to a full stop at a neighborhood stop sign, or following the speed limit. Try to be more mindful of these moments and do your best to follow the rules of the road. You want your teen to do the same!

Above all, be mindful and try to be on your best driving behavior when you are in the car with your teen. I know it’s hard, but it will be worth it. They are watching you and have been since you turned their car seat to face forward… if you can remember back that far. If they see that you’re not following the same rules you’ve set for them, it will make your job of teaching them even harder!


If you’d like more tips for how to teach your teen how to drive, you can check out The Parent’s Survival Guide for New Teen Drivers.


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