9 Tips for Creating a Curfew for Your Teen

Establish a safe curfew time for your teen.
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Curfews can be a major source of disagreement in many homes. Teens want to stay out later, their parents want them home at a reasonable hour. Here are nine tips for creating a curfew that your teen will follow:

1. Invite Your Teen’s Input

Ask for your teen’s input about what time he thinks is a reasonable curfew. Letting your teen weigh in can help him feel like he’s being heard. That doesn’t mean you need to agree with the curfew time he thinks is appropriate – but listening to his opinion can give you insight into your teen’s opinion.

2. Respond to Protests with Reassurance

It’s likely you’ll hear protests at least once in a while. When your teen says something like, “But all the other kids get to stay out later,” remind him that your job is to keep him safe. Say, “I love you and I’m establishing a curfew that is safe for you.”

3. Remind Your Teen About a Curfew’s Purpose

Your teen may insist that your desire to impose a curfew is for the sole purpose of making his life miserable. When you hear such comments, remind your teen that the purpose of a curfew is to ensure he’s not getting into trouble and to help him get enough sleep so he can stay healthy.

4. Create Safety Guidelines

Make safety the top priority. Consider having your teen call you at a certain time to tell you he’s on his way home, rather than setting a definitive curfew time. For example, instead of saying your teen has to be home at 10 p.m., tell him to call you at 9:30 to tell you he’s headed home.

That way, he may be less tempted to speed in an effort to ensure he’s in the door by 9:59 p.m. But if he leaves at 9:30 p.m., you’ll know he’s on his way and whether he hits traffic, or he encounters a rain storm, you’ll know he’s more likely to make safety a priority.

5. Offer Some Flexibility

Rather than say, “You have to be home by 11 p.m. every Saturday night,” be flexible for special occasions.

When your teen attends a dance or goes to a late night show, be willing to allow for a later curfew.

6. Create a Check-In Rule

Check-in with your teen when he comes home. Even if you’re asleep, tell him to wake you up. Not only will that give you an opportunity to check on the time that he’s arriving home, but it’ll also provide an opportunity to make sure he’s sober. If your teen knows he has to check-in with you, he’s much less likely to use drugs or alcohol.

7. Discuss How to Handle Unforeseen Circumstances

Discuss times where it’s important to make healthy decisions, rather than worry about getting home on time. For example, tell him to call for a ride home, rather than worry about curfew if someone he’s riding with is drinking. Make sure your teen is equipped to deal with potential dangers or unforeseen circumstances he may encounter.

8. Enforce Consequences

If your teen misses curfew, enforce negative consequences. Take away privileges, ground him, or use logical consequences that will deter him from violating curfew again in the future.

 9. Problem-Solve as Needed 

Teens aren’t perfect, and neither are their curfew times. So when difficulties arise, problem-solve together. Work with your teen on helping him create strategies that will increase his willingness to take responsibility for coming home on time.

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