What Is A Good Curfew

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Transcript of What is a good curfew for my teenager? 

It is question and answer day and today’s question is: What is a good curfew for my teenager? So today, I am going to give you tips on how to make an appropriate curfew for your child.  Let’s get started!

Curfew is another one of those parenting choices that we have to make individually for each child.  Since every child is different, curfews may be different also. Don’t feel that if you have multiple children that each child has to have the same curfew! Parenting is done best when we individualize rules and expectations according to the needs of each child and don’t generalize the rules to fit everyone.

So the question today really leans to, How do I make a good curfew for my teenager?

The first thing to consider is how much structure and boundaries your child needs. What kind of maturity level are they at?  This question is completely independent of the child’s age.  I know some very mature 13-year-olds and some very immature 16-year-olds.   I suggest you ask yourself these questions and pick a comfortable time for you as the parent. Then, this is the base curfew you’re going to start out with.  After the base curfew  is established, your teen will need to prove to you their consistent responsibility to keep that curfew to “earn” a later curfew.  You can tell your child, “Get home on time and respect the curfew for a month and that will show me you can act responsibly, then we can discuss extending curfew times.” Once later curfews are earned by good behavior, responsible decisions, open communication, and no rule-breaking. You can negotiate longer curfew times increasing in 30-minute increments at a time.

Keep in mind that your comfort level should be based MORE on the child’s maturity and not your fears and what you did in the dark as a teenager.  You are already going to be biased about your comfort level, depending on your own teenage experiences. Still, you don’t just assume your child is going to be just like you. That’s not fair to them.  Instead, base your choice on their history of decision-making, interests, and responsibility.

What is a good curfew?

What is a good curfew?

Also, consider that an 8pm curfew for a 17-year-old may be doing your child a disservice.  I know this is an extreme example, but if we are too overprotective with our children, they will never get the life experience they need to navigate adulthood.

The next thing to consider when making a curfew for your child is: What are they doing? This is where the open and honest communication from your child comes into play and builds your trust so that they may negotiate a later curfew with you later.  Explain that to your child.  GPS features for your child’s phone are also a helpful tool for keeping them honest and keeping you in the loop of where they are. However, I STILL have my children call and tell me their location, even though I can just look it up on the GPS.  Kids that call home and tell their parents when they change locations build additional trust with their mom and dad.  Plus, telling someone where you are is a good safety habit to develop.

Parents also want to consider the safety of the neighborhood where their child is spending time.  The possibility of crime and bad influences can definitely play a role in your curfew time decision.

Which brings me to the question you are probably thinking, What time is too late? What time does my child need to be home, and they simply can’t stay out any longer than that? Period.  Well, that number depends on the legal curfew of your city and the city where your child is spending time. There are juvenile curfew laws that prohibit kids under 18 from spending time in public after certain hours.  Similarly, some jurisdictions set limits on when teens can drive at night.  These laws should be the guidelines for your non-negotiable max curfew limit.

Those are my suggestions for how to make your curfew boundaries. Still, of course, nothing in parenting is ever that easy.  Here are some other quick things to think about.

  • Don’t forget to consider the amount of sleep your child needs to be healthy. Most doctors recommend 8-10 hours for teens at minimum. If your child has an early appointment Saturday morning, then curfew Friday night might have to be earlier too.
  • Don’t forget to come to an agreement with your co-parenting partner ahead of time so that the two, three, or four of you can be on a united front. I know many divorced parents have “dad’s house rules and mom’s house rules,” but in this case, it is better to have the same curfew at both houses IF you can.
  • And my last recommendation and probably the most important one is to clearly communicate your child’s expectations about the curfew, calling home, what happens if you’re running late. The consequences of running late BEFORE your teen ever leaves the house. You have to make sure they understand your expectations by repeating those expectations back to you verbally.  Don’t assume they know.  Setting consequences for missed curfews should be done BEFORE your child even leaves the house also.  When children know what will happen if they miss curfew beforehand, they are less likely to make those bad decisions.  Telling your child, “You will be in trouble if you are late,” doesn’t cut it.  You need to actually tell them what will happen.  What will their punishment be? And then hold your child to the exact time you want them home and the consequences for missing the mark. If they do come home late, wait until the morning to discuss what happened.  Screaming, arguing, or lecturing in the middle of the night when emotions are high, rarely ends well.  The morning time presents a better opportunity to have a conversation and implement the consequences of their actions.

    What is a good curfew?

    What is a good curfew?

Now you might be asking, what do you do, Kristina? Well, I vary my curfew depending on my child, their behaviors, and the occasion.  I don’t have a set curfew that says you always have to be home by 10.  Instead, I vary curfew depending on what my child is doing, what is happening the next day, and if they are in good standing with their responsibilities.  My children earn later curfew times and get early curfew times if they haven’t made good choices.

I hope that helps you today!  Please share this episode with someone who needs it, subscribe, and comment with your thoughts and curfew suggestions.  Then don’t forget to subscribe to the Impactful Parenting Podcast and check out the online free resources at theimpactfulparent.com

You got this parents, I am just here to help.

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