As your teenager stretches her wings toward greater independence, spending more time away from home with friends will naturally result. Part of maintaining limits and keeping your teen safe, curfews are also a common source of conflict between parents and teenagers. Explore the benefits and drawbacks of curfews and proceed wisely as you institute a curfew for your teen.
Although teens often bristle at the perceived unfairness and randomness of curfews, curfews can help keep teenagers safer, states Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D., a psychologist writing for Psychology Today. Risks can become greater as the hour gets later, with more people who are out being fatigued or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In addition, later hours may present more challenges to your teenager, as she may face exposure to more decisions about conduct.
A curfew can be an effective way to ensure that your teenager gets enough sleep, advises the Aspen Education Group. Teenagers need up to 9.5 hours of sleep each night, according to the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. Parents might set a school-night curfew at a time that enables the teenager to get the required number of hours of sleep to get up for school the next morning.
Some parents mete out curfew times to teenagers without taking into consideration the opinion or thoughts of their teens. This style of parenting can feel unfair and inflexible to teenagers. In fact, teens often bristle at the prospect of unfairness, states the University of Minnesota Extension. Instituting an authoritarian curfew could be the precursor to behavioral issues with your teenager. In addition, an authoritarian curfew does not help your teenager develop inner discipline, because the curfew simply insists that your child comply to the rule, according to the University of Florida.
A balanced approach in which parents and teenagers compromise and institute the curfew together can result in a more successful rule, advises New Mexico State University. By having a conversation with your teen about curfews and finding out his thoughts, you open the door to greater cooperation and more willingness to abide by the curfew. It’s also reasonable to build some flexibility into curfews so they match whatever your teen’s activity might be. This helps your teen learn negotiation, states Brigham Young University.
Attaching specific consequences to a curfew helps a teenager learn cause and effect, as well as teaching your teen that you will enforce the curfew. When your teenager misses curfew, enforcing the consequence will demonstrate that you will be faithful to follow through. This consistency builds trust and confidence between you and your teen, according to the University of Alabama Parenting Assistance Line. Use common sense with consequences, however, cautions New Mexico State University. If your teenager had a flat tire or another plausible excuse for being late, extend mercy instead of the promised consequence.