Managing Road Rage for the Sake of Your Children

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The road is full of lousy, distracted drivers.  And that makes the rest of us angry.  Oh, I’m not talking about the kind of anger that makes people jump out of their cars or brandish weapons or any of those extremes you sometimes hear about on the news.  I’m talking about the kind of anger that makes us mutter/yell things like:


::Seriously?  Nice signal, jerk.

::Um, hello, do you even know HOW to drive??

::Nice taking your half out of the middle, idiot.

::Oh, c’mon, MOVE already!

::Um, the light’s not getting any greener…

::What are you waiting for?  An engraved invitation?

::Okay, really, either learn to drive or get out of the left lane…

::Get off my rear, loser!

::Are you KIDDING me?  You cut me off to turn a half a block later?

::Would you stop-putting-on-makeup/get-off-the-phone/stop-reaching-in-the-backseat/etc and just DRIVE already?



They’re legitimate complaints.  And these things happen every single day to at least one of us.  Sometimes, we think if we don’t TRULY lose it (AKA attack someone or curse a blue streak) then we’re doing fine and are being reasonable.  But, the thing is, while it can be chuckle-worthy to occasionally hear a little one repeat our ranting words, it’s not really what most of us want for them.  And it’s not particularly productive either.


I went through a phase where I would grit my teeth and bear it.  I would be seething inside, but I would say nothing because I didn’t want my ire to spill over onto my children.  It was better for them than going on a tirade, but I’ll be honest and tell you that it wasn’t good for my heart rate and stress level.


A few years ago, I realized that I would be doing myself and my children a favor by talking about what just happened– not yelling or muttering around, but explaining why we had just witnessed poor driving.  Now, when some lousy driver crosses my path, my children are likely to hear something like this:


::Wow, I didn’t know where that car was going because he didn’t use his signal.  That could have caused an accident.  It’s important to let people know where you’re going!

::Well, that right there was bad driving.  Some people don’t pay attention or just don’t care and that’s why we have to be extra careful.

::Yikes!  That car went right over the middle line!  Do you see that yellow line?  That’s there because we’re not supposed to cross it.  Staying on your own side makes it safer.

::This car isn’t going as fast as it should and that can be frustrating… but we can’t pass right here, so we’ll just have to hope he gets going soon.

::*beep!*  (I admit it– I give a short horn beep if people don’t pay attention at green lights.)  That driver wasn’t paying attention to the traffic light– that’s why Mommy honked.  So he would notice and drive through so other cars can get through too.

::Sometimes it’s hard to gauge how much room there is to pull out into traffic and some people are better at it than others.  Daddy’s better at it than me and, apparently, the driver of that car isn’t very good at it at all.  We might have to wait awhile for our turn…

::The left lane should be for passing and speedy traffic.  See how much more slowly this car is moving than the one in the middle?  That’s not really how it should work.  We’re going to go back to the middle lane for now.

::Man!  See that car behind us?  He is WAY too close to Mommy’s van.  If I have to stop suddenly, he’ll hit us for sure.  That’s why it’s so important to keep some space between vehicles whenever you’re driving.

::Well, some people are very impatient drivers.  That’s what happened with that lady who cut us off only to turn right away.  It would have been nicer to wait for the huge opening right behind our car… courtesy is a good trait when you’re behind the wheel.

::That person in front of us makes me nervous because she’s not paying attention to the road.  We’re going to keep our distance because I’m worried about her driving.  When you’re behind the wheel, that needs to be your focus.  Make-up, phone calls, and stuff in the backseat can wait until you’re safely parked.


Perhaps these things sound silly, but it really helps!  By talking it out, I feel better because I’ve been able to vocalize that someone was a bad driver.  My kids benefit because they are actually learning some very simple lessons about driving and the road.  They’re very little yet, but they already understand a lot about defensive driving because of these conversations.  I honestly feel I’m helping prepare them a bit for the day they find themselves behind the wheel and dealing with distracted drivers.


How do you handle the lousy drivers of the road?  Do you ignore them?  Complain about them?

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3 comments to Managing Road Rage for the Sake of Your Children

  • Ha ha this is a good reminder because I’m guilty of a number of those. But seriously the moron cutting me off and slamming on his brakes when there’s a mile of empty road behind me really must be scolded.

  • Susie G

    You’re so right! When my son (now almost 30!) was about one, and I slammed on the brakes, I’d hear him mutter “Idiot!”

    And my much younger sister, whose son is now 13, would hear in the same tone of disgust “Woozer!” (loser!)

    I only cracked up and decided not to mutter anymore, I wasn’t smart enough to translate it like you have!

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