Teen Curfews (page 2)
As teens get older, they want to stay out later at night. All discipline with a teenager is tricky, so let's start with some general tips on setting limits with teens. What should parents be keeping in mind?
Parents must first make the rules clear, and make consequences of breaking those rules reasonable. What teens want is to know that parents will hold firm. Parents must also be willing to listen and negotiate with their teen. It also helps to keep in touch with other parents and share ideas.
At what age should we first start thinking about setting a curfew?
As our children first begin to venture out on their own, we begin to monitor and adjust their freedom. The appropriate age varies. That decision must depend more on how structured or supervised the late-night activities are. A good general rule is if the parent feels a curfew is needed, then it probably is appropriate.
OK, so we agree on a curfew. But just about every teenager in the world will say, "But you're the only parent in town who makes their kid come home by 11:00." How do we respond to that?
That comment shows why it's important to keep in touch, to find out what other parents are doing. Perhaps you are being too rigid and you need to explore that – what is a reasonable time for the child’s interests and schedule? You can always say, "I know I'm the only parent, but I feel strongly about this."
What about the teenager who is constantly calling five minutes before curfew to tell theparents he will be late?
Be reasonable, sometimes there are traffic hassles or changes in plans and it does take longer. If it happens often, however, alert the teen in advance and make sure he understands the consequences. Consequences for missing curfew must be logical -- relate them to the teens’ freedoms. Be sure to enforce them consistently.
What are some general tips for setting curfews?
Keep in mind what they are doing -- are they just roaming the street or at a supervised party? Many traffic accidents and other high risks happen after midnight. Don't be embarrassed to call other parents and ask about parties, etc.
When are teens too old for a curfew? When should they be allowed to come home whenever they choose?
Remember the goal is self-discipline. If they live with parents after high school or college graduation, they should respect family schedules and role modeling to younger siblings. If they don’t come in at reasonable times, they should find another place to live. Work toward that freedom gradually and see how they respond. Their response is an indication of their maturity.
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Reprinted with the permission of the Heartland Family Service. © 2008 Heartland Family Service
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