Being a teenager can be difficult when you’re caught between childhood and adulthood and you’re trying to figure out who you are. But raising a teenager can be even more trying. You want to give your teen more freedom and responsibility, but you’re still concerned about what they’re doing and who they’re with all the time.
This has resulted in curfews. While some teenagers never have a problem making it home on time, for others it’s a battle. With this being said, here are a few tips to help you get your kids to adhere to their curfew:
Determine a Reasonable Time
Picking a time at random for your teenager to come home may not be the best tactic for getting them to follow the rules. Gather the data before you set any mandates so you know that your time is reasonable and fair for your child. Empowering Parents suggests talking to other parents, school staff and other sources to see what time they set for their child’s curfew. Then, think about your teen and how responsible and trustworthy they are to make it earlier or later.
While you may be tempted to set the same time your parents set for you when you were a teenager, you need to recognize that times have changed. You also shouldn’t fall into the trap of having to stick to the same curfew for every child. Fair is not always fair. Each child is different and has different needs, wants and maturity levels. So take all the factors into consideration and come up with an individualized plan with your spouse and child.
Stick to the Agreement
Once you set a time for curfew, stick to it. Your teens may try to get you to waiver or see how far they push the limits, but this is a time for you to stand firm on the rules. Let them know that 10:15 does not count as making a 10:00 curfew. Just because they have a cellphone also doesn’t mean they can call or text to tell you they’ll be late. Set the expectation that they are responsible for making it home on time. If you fall asleep before their curfew, make sure they wake you up to let you know they’re home safely. You also should let your teen know that you can use the home security camera system to see if they made it home on time or if they decide to sneak back out of the house.
Discuss the Consequences
Just because your teenager knows the rules doesn’t mean they’re going to follow them. When you set the time for their curfew, you also should go over the consequences for breaking it. If it’s a minor infraction, the punishment also can be small, such as taking their smartphone away or grounding them for a short period of time. However, if they’re hours late or consistently miss curfew, you may want to resort to larger consequences. These could include taking the keys to their car away or not allowing them to go out with their friends until they can prove that they are ready to follow the rules.
If your teenager is constantly getting in trouble and acting defiant, you may need to take a different approach to consequences. Treat the rules like a businessperson rather than as a scared and angry parent. For example, if an employee came in late every day, you wouldn’t yell at them as soon as they clocked in. Instead you would take them aside and explain the consequences, such as having their pay docked, suspension or even losing their job. For your child, you shouldn’t yell and start lecturing them the second they get home. Give yourself time to cool off and then discuss the next steps in the morning when you can act more rationally. If your child is still being defiant, you can explain that the consequences may be turning off their cellphone service, taking their car away or even calling the police if you’re afraid they’re doing something unsafe.
Reward Good Behavior
It’s just as important to react to positive behavior as it is to punish negative behavior. If your teenager consistently meets their curfew and is acting responsibly, you should address and reward that. Consider moving back their curfew by an hour, or be willing to make an exception on special occasions like a concert or school dance. You also could give them more freedom and privileges by letting them take the car out later or further away than normal. Let them go to a party you normally wouldn’t. Show your child that you notice that they’re becoming a responsible adult and that you trust them to make good decisions.
Curfew doesn’t have to be a constant battle with your teenager. If you set expectations and stick to them, everyone in the household is on the same page and understands the results of breaking and following the rules.