Parenting teens can be really difficult. Teens need boundaries just as much as younger children do, but they are more likely to rebel against the necessary restrictions. Here's how you can establish a curfew with your teenage children.
Establish the Curfew When Your Children Are Young
Don't wait until your children are teenagers to establish a curfew. Establish the curfew when your children are pre-teens so that, by the time they reach their teen years, obeying a curfew has become a long established habit. Make sure your children know what the curfew is and what the consequences will be if they break it.
The curfew should be at an established time every night. Talk this over with your children and make sure that everyone agrees upon a fair curfew and a reasonable punishment for breaking the curfew. When your younger children break the curfew, remind them that you agreed upon the curfew together and punish them according to your agreement.
Be Flexible with the Curfew
When your children are very young, they won't need a curfew. As your children become pre-teens, give them a curfew that allows for free time out of the house to be with friends and do favorite activities. As your children grow, extend their curfew, making sure they know that because they're older, they're being given more responsibility. If you have children of different ages and they have different curfews, make your reasons for this decision clear to all of the children.
Be flexible with the curfew when it comes to your children's activities, especially if extracurricular activities occur far from home or if your child will need to stay out later to participate in special events, like dance performances. The important thing is knowing where your children are and that they are safe. Your children have a right to lead full, enriching lives and they needn't be asked to sacrifice activities that are important to them soley for the sake of adhering to a curfew. If you have child curfew laws in your area, respect them, and accompany your children if they need to stay out later than local laws allow.
Enforce the Curfew
When your children break the curfew, punish them. You and your children should agree beforehand upon the hour of curfew and a reasonable punishement for breaking curfew. When you punish them for breaking curfew, remind them that you are punishing them as per your previous agreement.
As your children get older, punishments should become more strict. Revoke privileges that your children cherish; for a pre-teen or younger teenager, revoke television privileges; for an older teen, take away use of the car.
Offer Praise as Well as Punishment
When your child obeys his curfew and comes home on time, let him know how happy you are that he's safe and how proud you are to have such a thoughtful and trustworthy child. Let your children know how worried you get when they don't come home on time, and thank them for saving you the stress of waiting up.