Why Doesn’t My Teenager Want To Get Their License?


Getting their driver’s license is a monumental rite of passage for most teenagers and parents. Spending hours studying the handbook, getting their learner’s permit, and finally taking their driving test. The freedom to get behind the wheel and drive themselves anywhere can be incredible for teenagers.

You may be simultaneously looking forward to him driving and dreading it, but what do you do when he’s not bugging you to practice his driving? What if he’s not in a hurry to get his license?

Several factors could be behind his refusal to get a license.

1. He’s nervous about getting behind the wheel

Do you remember how you felt when you first started driving?

Unless you were infused with incredible confidence, you likely felt some trepidation. Learning to drive a car and operate it safely can be scary.

The streets today are busier than ever, with many bad drivers out there not taking safety seriously. They’re distracted while driving by texting, or they’re disregarding speed limits and so much more.

For a teen who is perhaps already struggling with anxiety, the idea of operating a vehicle safely on a busy road can be overwhelming.

Teaching him the rules of the road and how to operate the car safely is an important first step. Just as important is remembering to take things slowly and at a pace that he can agree upon. If he’s comfortable driving in parking lots, don’t push him to take it out onto the road until he feels confident enough.

It might take him a little bit longer than it took you, but the time spent will be well worth it when you have a confident and safe driver on the road.

2. He’s struggling with his mental health

Depression can become a concern that many teens face. More often than not, it’s not due to any outside influence, which can make it harder to recognize and address. If your teen is depressed, he may not feel compelled to do anything that will potentially alter his day-to-day life.

Learning to drive can require a fair amount of motivation and time. Mental illness can make it difficult for your teen to find the motivation he needs to get behind the wheel and do something for himself.

Getting him treatment to help him work through his mental health concerns can get him back on the path to mental wellness.

3. He’s looking for eco-friendly driving

Is it possible that your teen is embracing an eco-friendly approach?

Perhaps the idea of driving a gasoline-powered vehicle doesn’t hold appeal to him. It can be tempting to dismiss this as a childish notion. However, these are the developmental years where your teen will learn more about who he is and what is important to him.

Try to be supportive as much as you can be. You may even be able to look into getting a pre-owned electric or hybrid car for him or allow him to continue to commute via bike.

4. He gets stressed on the road with you

You may have been looking forward to teaching your teen to drive, showing him all of the things you’ve learned over the years. You might be an excellent driver, but your teen may not enjoy taking instruction from you.
As frustrating and potentially upsetting as this might be, it’s quite normal for your teen not to want to listen to you. Part of being a teenager is learning to make your own decisions.

You may find that you are constantly at odds with your teen at home, whether it’s about picking up his socks from the hallway or doing his chores on time. This tension and stress set the stage for a complicated situation when you’re in the car with your teen.

This might be the right opportunity to have another family member step in or perhaps get a driving instructor. They may tell your teen the same things that you would, but your teen is much more likely to respond positively to them.

This is one of those parenting moments where you will need to pick your battles. If your goal is to get your teenager behind the wheel as a confident and safe driver, take the best approach to meet his needs.

5. There is a history of trauma

Your teen appearing to be irrational and refusing to get his license may be rooted in some trauma that he’s experienced while in the car.

Was he ever in a serious car accident? Even a minor fender bender can be enough to inflict some emotional trauma on a child. It can be quite serious if your teenager has had a family member or a friend pass away in a car accident.

It might take some probing and possibly getting help from mental wellness professionals. Still, it is important to understand how the past trauma keeps him from getting his license today.

6. Maybe he’s just not ready

Believe it or not, some teens just don’t feel ready to get their license even as they approach the age of eighteen. Sure, there may be some underlying reasons for not taking the exam to get their license, but it could also have nothing to do with anxiety, depression, past trauma, or difficulties with their parents.

He may be comfortable with his life as it is right now. Becoming a licensed driver can also bring with it added responsibilities for driving around siblings and running errands. It could be that he’s just not ready for all of that.

Don’t push him into anything that he’s not ready for. The more time that you allow your teen to gain confidence behind the wheel before taking the exam, the better equipped he will be to handle any situation that he faces on the road.

Is your teen struggling with his or her mental health?

Whether you’ve recognized the signs of depression or some other mental wellness concern, it could just be that a residential treatment center is the best way to help him learn the best coping strategies. Connect with Help Your Teen Now to learn more about the resources that are available to your family.

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