Discovering that your teen has been sneaking out of your home can be frightening. This behavior often occurs at night when parents are sleeping or away from home. Monitoring your teen is challenging, but it's necessary to keep him safe. This activity also helps him respect you and the rules in your home.
Sit down with your teen in a quiet environment where you won’t be interrupted. Tell him that by sneaking out he is disobeying you and not showing respect for your authority. Explain that your main concern is for his safety.
Ask him to think about the dangers he might encounter if he continues to sneak out. Add to the list, if he doesn’t come up with many ideas. He might insist that he can take care of himself. Explain that everyone -- even adults – find themselves in treacherous positions at times. Point out that your spouse informs you when he is running an errand on the way home or is going to be somewhere other than his original plans. Tell your teen that behavior is common courtesy and applies to everyone, not just children or adolescents. If that isn't something other family members do, start doing it now. This models responsible behavior for the teen.
Write down a list of rules that you expect him to follow regarding his activities away from home and ask him to sign it. Having a written agreement is an effective way to ensure that he doesn’t claim he didn’t understand the rules later on, according to the Ohio State University Extension website.
Call to check up on him when he is supposed to be at home and you are not. Do this by calling the house phone, otherwise he might lie and pretend he is home if you call his cell phone. Another effective way to check up on him is to ask a trusted neighbor or relative to stop by while you are gone.
Hang a calendar or dry erase board in your home, as suggested by the Ohio State University Extension site. Have family members note their appointments, meetings and other activities. This prevents your teen from lying and saying he told you about an outing. He might say he simply walked out the front door without telling you about it because he thought you were aware of his plans.
Monitor your teenager’s cell phone and Internet use. This is an effective way to be aware of your teen's plans to sneak out, so you can nip them in the bud. Some programs have ways to see all your adolescent’s incoming and outgoing texts, emails or calls, according to the Dr. Phil website. You might be hesitant to intrude on his privacy in this manner, but his safety comes first.
Install window and door alarms that you can turn on and off with a remote control. This prevents your teen from turning off the alarm on his window and then turning it back on once he returns home. If you have a home security system and your teen doesn’t let himself in when returning home from school or a part-time job, don’t give him the pass code. This ensures that he cannot disable the alarm when he surreptitiously leaves the house, but of course, he can get out safely during an emergency.
According to the ABCD Parenting website, adolescents need to know that their parents care about their whereabouts and their activities. (see ref 2 under Why Keep Track) Although the adolescent may insist he is grown and can take care of himself, knowing that his parents care helps provide a sense of security. Don’t be afraid that the monitoring is intrusive and will harm the relationship. Instead, spend time with your teen talking about his interests, opinions and ideas. Nurturing the bond between parent and adolescent is an effective way to build an open and honest relationship. This is helpful in curtailing bad behavior. (see ref 2 graf 2 under Why Keep Track?)
Talk to your teen about trust. Explain how difficult it is to earn it back once it is damaged. When he understands how serious you are about keeping him safe, he will likely work hard toward rebuilding your trust in him.
Internet and cell phone monitoring equipment is available at computer and phone stores and online.
Hardware, discount and home security stores carry different types of alarm systems.
Seek professional advice if your teenager continues to find ways to sneak out. This behavior may lead to drug or alcohol use, involvement with a gang or other types of serious problems if you do not take steps to stop it.