Parents usually have a strict set of rules for children in their formative years, but as they become teens, kids become like horses without riders, taking what we have ingrained in them and creating their own structures. Psychologists tell us that teens flourish with structure and guidance, and all kids, not matter what age, are actually secretly flattered knowing that their parents care and are trying to protect them. Furthermore, by encouraging curfews, parents set the groundwork for their children as they enter adulthood and will one day parent their own children.
What are some essential guidelines when creating curfews?
- Speak to the parents of your child’s friends. By getting an idea of what others are doing, you can gauge whether you are being too strict or too loose. You can also ask a professional to get a sense of what is appropriate.
- Spouses should discuss possible curfew rules together before sitting down with their child. Presenting a unified front shows that you take the issue seriously.
- Curfews should start out strict and then get more lenient as your teen earns your trust.
- Note that the wee hours of the morning are more apt to be filled with danger.
- Have the curfew conversation with your teen. The goal is to come up with an agreed upon curfew and agreed upon consequences if the rules are broken.
- Be flexible. Parents must consider the night, the activity, who they will be with, other responsibilities, the child’s current performance at school and at home, etc. You may want to consider a floating curfew, wherein you agree upon an appropriate hour on a night-per-night basis.
· Note that even the most responsible children should be given a curfew, for it is an opportunity for them to earn even more trust and also have another reminder of how much you care.
- Parents should maintain the right to have the last word.
· Make it clear that if they are going to be late, they should know to call or text.
This article was written by Randi Shomer for The SAFE Foundation.