How to Establish a Curfew for Your Teen

Establish a clear curfew for your teen.
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Teens aren’t equipped to make healthy decisions all on their own. They need rules and limits that guide them in making good choices. A curfew is an essential part of keeping teens safe from the trouble that lurks in the middle of the night.

Establish a clear curfew time for school nights as well as a later curfew time for vacations and weekends. Be willing to extend your teen’s curfew for special events, like prom or a concert, but make sure your expectations are clear well in advance.

Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Curfew Time

Curfew should be based on your teen’s maturity level and your teen’s ability to make good choices. So while one 15-year-old may be able to handle an 11 p.m. curfew, a 9 pm may be more appropriate for another child of the same age. Here are some things to keep in mind when establishing your teen’s curfew:

  • Your teen’s responsibility level – Consider your teen’s overall level of responsibility. Does he get his homework done on time? Does he do his chores regularly? A responsible, trustworthy teen is likely to be able to handle more freedom.
  • Area activities – The community activities available to teens after dark should also be taken into consideration. If you live in a high crime area, late night activities may not be safe. If you live in a rural area, there may be few things for teens to do, and without structured activities, some teens get themselves into trouble. If however, your area offers structured, safe activities for young people, a later curfew may be appropriate.
  • What your teen is doing – Your teen’s curfew can be flexible based on the activities he’s participating in. A teen who is studying with a trusted friend should be allowed to stay out a little later than a teen who is hanging out in a park.
  • Who your teen is spending time with – You should also consider the people your teen spends time with in the evenings. If he’s spending time with friends he enjoys playing video games with, there may be little chance he’ll get into trouble. If however, he’s hanging out with the wrong crowd, an earlier curfew may be appropriate.
  • Your teen’s sleep schedule – In general, teens need about nine hours of sleep each night. Make sure that your teen is home about an hour before bedtime. That way, he’ll have some time to unwind and get ready to go to sleep. Allowing for too late of a curfew could lead to sleep deprivation, which can be dangerous to your teen’s physical and emotional health.

General Curfew Time Suggestions

Just because your child insists “Everyone else gets to stay out later!” you don’t need to adjust his curfew. Instead, create a curfew time that you think will give him a little bit of freedom without setting him up for failure.

Although you should consider your child’s curfew time based on his maturity level and the activities he’s involved in, here are a few general time suggestions for teens:

  • Curfew for 13 to 14 Year Olds – Curfew on school nights for young teens should be around 7 or 8 p.m. Extend curfew on non-school nights to 9 or 10 p.m.
  • Curfew for 15 to 16 Year Olds – By the time a teen reaches about 15 or 16, an 8 or 9 pm curfew may be appropriate for school nights and 10 or 11 p.m. on non-school nights.
  • Curfew for 17 to 18 Year Olds – Older teens may be able to handle a 10 p.m. curfew on school nights and midnight on weekends. 

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