What to Do When Your Teen Leaves Home Without Permission

By Candice Coleman
Parents should make sure a teen knows the rules before disciplining him for leaving without permission.
Parents should make sure a teen knows the rules before disciplining him for leaving without permission.

You arrive home from the store only to find that your teen has headed to a friend's house. While your teen may simply be visiting others, leaving the house without permission can leave you feeling anxious and worried. Figuring out a healthy way to discipline your teen can go a long way in ensuring the problem does not continue.

Establishing the Rules

Though you may be furious that your teenager left home without permission, you need to check your rule book first. Punishing a teenager who was unaware that she could not leave without permission can backfire. Writing out the rules with your teenager beforehand, in addition to the punishments for breaking each, may cause less friction between yourself and your daughter after she breaks a rule, according to child development expert with the Kids Health website. When she arrives home after leaving without permission, you need only remind her of the rule and its punishment.

Punishment

If leaving without permission is not a frequent problem, restricting rights or grounding your teenager may be an effective punishment, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics' HealthyChildren.org. Not letting your teen leave home other than going to school or work for a day, or withdrawing privileges like use of the car or phone can also be effective. Punishments that last less than a day are usually most effective.

Considerations

Issuing punishments that are too strict may leave your teenager feeling he has nothing left to lose, according to HealthyChildren.org. No matter how angry you are, the punishment should fit the crime. Preventing your teenager from attending a big school event for leaving once without permission may breed resentment and more poor behavior.

Additional Information

If your teen continues leaving home without permission despite your punishments, it may be a sign that your punishment is not severe enough. Creating balanced punishments can be a challenge for any parent. Speaking with your teen's doctor, a child behavioral specialist or a teen guidance counselor may give you more insight into effective disciplinary measures. Consistency is also important when it comes to disciplining your teen for leaving without permission. If you sometimes cannot carry out a punishment, your teen may have little reason to follow your rules.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.