Missing Curfew

Featured in Pre-Teens & Teens

Missing Curfew

It is important for parents to understand that teens and pre-teens need firm rules and routine in order to be able to navigate in their world confidently. Curfews are one way to help provide routines for teens as well as keeping order in a household. There are two ways parents can implement curfews: a blanket curfew that is given and is supposed to be followed most of the time, or a curfew that is given each time a teen or pre-teen leaves the house.

Methods of Discipline

Missing curfew in teens is a very common issue. While it in itself may not seem like a big issue, albeit it is annoying to parents, it is important that the behavior is eliminated.

1. Set clear rules for pre-teens and teens as these age groups are known to push their boundaries, especially to see how their parents respond. Establishing clear rules should also include consequences for breaking the rules. Lay out the consequences so your child knows what to expect should he or she choose to break the rules. It might be helpful to have your teen be involved in the design of the consequences. Usually by having him or her participate you will encounter less resistance.

2. Once clear rules have been set, it is important that the rules, along with the consequences are put into writing. This will help significantly to reduce the number of misunderstandings as the rules will be right there is black and white. Store the written rules in a central location where your kids can easily find it.

Teen - missing curfew - solution


3.  As a parent, you need to be consistent and firm. Pre-teens and teens love to negotiate and are quite adept at spotting weaknesses in parents. If you give in to your kids’ pleas, they can come to expect you will give in when they break rules as well. Consistency requires the same response each time the behavior occurs as well as the same response between parents. Remind yourself to be firm but also show some fairness and understanding. After all, teens are still exploring their worlds and how they fit in.

4. An important piece of parenting, especially parenting teenagers, is to teach your teen how to make decisions. Teens have to learn that behavior (and misbehavior) have consequences and that their behavior is controlled by the choices they make and the actions they take.

5. Grounding can be an effective punishment for pre-teens and teens. It typically involves restricting your teen to a specific space, like home, for breaking rules and misbehaving. This is a common discipline strategy that many parents use and can be an effective deterrent for misbehavior.

Helping Your Child Cope

One of the biggest points to remember for a parent of a teen is to try to understand what your teen is going through. It is a time of significant stress and pressure, but it is easy to forget this as parents and end up adding to your child’s stress. Before you hand out punishments for missing curfew, at least listen to the reason why the rule was broken. It is possible that there is a valid and responsible reason (ie having to wait for a cab instead of getting into a car with a drunk driver) for missing the curfew and it is important that parents listen before lecturing and doling out punishments.

teen coming in late

A blanket curfew is often a much easier way to set curfews. Obviously, this curfew can be modified for special events – later for some or earlier for others. With a blanket curfew, teens can never say “I didn’t know what time I needed to be home”, and you won’t have to think to yourself if you gave your teen a curfew before he or she went out the door.

Stay involved in your teens life so you can prevent some of the typical bad behavior. Respect their privacy and don’t listen in on conversations (and other tempting invasions of privacy), but keep the lines of communication open so you can be involved in their lives.

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