Teens are known for pushing boundaries and one of the most frustrating boundaries your teen will push is the curfew one. When she's late, not only is it infuriating, but you might find yourself pacing up and down the halls, worried that she's been hurt. You might let slide a one-time slip-up, but if violating curfew is a repeating pattern, it's time to impose some consequences. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests waiting until the next morning to impose consequences, when tempers have cooled off.
Grounding is a common consequence of breaking curfew. The parent forbids the child from leaving the house for a given period of time. In some cases, the parent may also limit or remove other privileges, such as the teen's cell phone, non-school related computer use or watching TV. In an article by Elizabeth Pantley, author of "Kid Cooperation and Perfect Parenting," if you choose this method, it's important to choose a short period of time, according to the article excerpted on the Child Welfare Information Gateway, a website from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. A six-month period, for example, would be unreasonable, and your teen might break more rules to retaliate.
Setting an earlier curfew is a logical consequence for a teen who's been coming home late. An earlier curfew still enables him to socialize, and he might not resent the curfew as much as he would if the curfew were harsher. It's also easy for your teen to understand that once he is able to abide by the limit you set that you might reward him with a later curfew.
Removal of Driving Privileges
A teen with a driver's license has freedom, but if you can't trust her to be home on time, driving might be a freedom she doesn't deserve. Taking away the keys -- with possible exceptions for driving to school and work -- can be a huge let down. If she's "the driver" among her friends, she'll experience more peer pressure to shape up so that she can get driving privileges again.
Your teen might have one friend who always causes your teen to break curfew. If this is the case, consider limiting the amount and type of contact your child has with that friend. While forbidding him to be with that friend may be unreasonable, you might stipulate that your child can only be with that friend in your home. As you rebuild trust with your child and the friend, you may allow them to go out together as a test run, then relax your rules when your child follows the curfew.