What to do about curfew violations

Posted on July 27th, 2011, 0 Comments

Giving teens the benefit of the doubt for occasional curfew violations and a few minutes tardiness is generally a good idea – particularly if your teen seems to be making a genuine effort to be home on time. By doing so, you’re modeling fairness and flexibility, and you’re making deposits in the parent-teen relationship account – an account you’ll need to draw on when there are problems. (We’ll be exploring this important account more in future posts.)

While it’s wise to give your teen the benefit of the doubt for occasional slips, you don’t want to ignore flagrant or frequent violations. Putting this two-part piece of advice into practice might look something like this:

– If your teen is less than 5 minutes late, say nothing about their tardiness.

– If they’re 5 -10 minutes late, let them know that you noticed their tardiness, and remind them of the agreed upon curfew time.

– And if your teen is more than 10 minutes late, you’ll want to have a discussion to explore what is going on and to determine what they need to do differently in the future. You’ll also want to consider giving a consequence. You might implement a payback rule in which your teen owes you time (I used 1.5 times the minutes late) and has to come home early the next night-out following an infraction. In practice, this means that if your teen comes home 30 minutes late on Friday night, they would be required to come in 45 minutes early on Saturday night.

Your interactions with your teen about curfew can help remind your teen that while they’re not a little child any more, they’re not an adult yet either. Getting the tone of these interactions right will help you send the message that even though your teen will gradually be making more and more of their own decisions, you’re still involved as a guide worth following.

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