Parenting Tips: Enforcing Appropriate Teen Curfews

Struggling over curfew is one of the biggest conflicts that parents and teens often encounter with each other. Teens may not like a curfew because they think it cuts into their fun and freedom, while parents insist that curfews are for their child’s protection and good health. When enforcing appropriate teen curfews, there are a few things that parents can do to make the process easier for teens to understand and respect.

Tip 1. Define expectations

Setting a curfew is much more than just agreeing what time your teen needs to be home. As a parent, you should also know where your teen is, what friends he or she will be hanging out with, and what activities they will be doing. Knowing where your child is when they are not at home is a key part of keeping them safe from themselves and others.

Tip 2. Set a clear curfew

If your teen doesn’t understand when curfew is, it’s hard for them to obey it. Make sure you are clear in your expectations and set a specific time, rather than something vague like “when the movie is over.” Remember that the curfew for a 14-year-old will be different than one for a 17-year-old with a job, so make sure that every 6 months or so, you and your teen talk about the curfew time. If your teen has earned your trust, it may be time to extend a little more freedom as they grow. If they are abusing the privilege, it may be time to cut back on freedoms.

Tip 3.  Keep in contact

If your teen has a cell phone, make sure he or she uses it to stay in touch with you. For example, you might require them to text or call when they arrive at their destination, like a movie theater, and call again when it is over. Go over what your teen should do if they run into any problems, such as car trouble or if they encounter a situation where they don’t feel comfortable staying. Above all, make sure your teen knows that they can always call you if they or their friends who are driving have been drinking and you will come to them, no questions asked.

Tip 4. Enforce Consequences

The consequences for breaking curfew should be spelled out well before the incident happens so you both know what to expect and neither of you are stuck making decisions in a highly emotional time. Make sure the consequences fit the transgression and avoid overly punitive punishments for small infractions in the mistaken attempt to control your teen. The idea is for them to earn more and more privileges and take responsibility for their actions. If your teen does break curfew, make sure to enforce the consequences.

Curfew is designed to keep teens safe and connected with their parents, so making a plan together with your teenager will help them take more responsibility in setting up a curfew, outlining consequences for breaking it and ultimately help them evolve into more responsible adults.

What is a fair consequence for a teen who breaks curfew?

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