Setting Up Curfew for Your Troubled Son


Setting an agreed-upon curfew for your teenager is an effective way to help them learn how to respect boundaries and rules. In doing so, you’re enabling your teen to make responsible decisions that will lead them to be more aware of their surroundings and make better choices.

But there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to setting a teenager’s curfew.

You need to establish a curfew that is best for your son and your family’s specific needs. Here are some strategies you can follow to set a realistic curfew for your troubled teen and tips for holding them accountable and creating clear consequences when broken.

How to set (and enforce) your teen’s curfew

Establishing a curfew provides your teen with the freedom they crave and the ability to follow the rules that you’ve laid out. Here are a few tips to follow when setting a curfew for your troubled teenager:

Determine a reasonable time for both you and your son.

Ultimately, you are in charge and get to establish your teen’s curfew — but you also want to make sure that they will still have a bit of independence.

By limiting their independence entirely, they are more likely to break curfew than follow it. If you would like to be awake when your teen arrives home (which ensures they are meeting their curfew), set the curfew for before midnight, so you aren’t staying up until the late hours of the morning for them to arrive home.

Involve them in the deciding process to help them feel trusted and heard.

Understand there will be special occasions when the curfew might be adjusted.

In certain scenarios, the agreed-upon curfew might not work. For instance, if your teenager is attending a school dance or working late and won’t be able to arrive home on time, that’s alright.

Sit down with your teen and discuss your expectations for the evening and put a modified curfew in place that allows them to attend the special activity and still make it home “on time.”

Have a discussion with your teen to lay out your expectations.

To make sure your teenager respects the established curfew, you must sit down together and share the ground rules.

Will you require them to check it a certain number of times throughout the evening?

Will they need to tell you where they are and who they are with?

Do they need to provide the contact information of the parent whose house they will be at?

Determine what you expect from your teenager and let them know that you are trusting them to follow these rules — and if they are broken, there will be consequences for their actions.

The goal of a curfew is to have your teenager arrive home on-time every night. By setting clear rules and having open communication with your teenager, they’re more likely to follow the established curfew.

What not to do when setting a curfew for a teenager

Although establishing a curfew for troubled boys might seem relatively straightforward, there are a few pitfalls you want to avoid:

Set a curfew that works for your situation – not based on what others are doing.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of setting the same curfew as your son’s friends. He may complain about the time you’ve set and tell you what everyone else’s curfew is in the hopes of getting you to push his curfew out later.

Don’t let your teen dictate the time of the curfew based on their friends, but involve them in the decision-making process. You need to establish a time that works for you and your family.

Don’t let your teen adjust their curfew time, especially at a moment’s notice.

While there will always be special occasions where you might opt to extend the curfew time, this should not become a regular habit.

If your teen calls you an hour before curfew and asks to stay out later or sleep at a friend’s house, be mindful of your decision. If you don’t respect the set time, your son will learn to take advantage of this tactic to stay out later.

Set clear expectations with them that if there is a particular reason why a curfew needs to be extended, it needs to be addressed ahead of time.

Clearly set the expectations of your teen if they are running late.

No matter how punctual your son may be on most nights, there may come a time or two when they find themselves running late.

If your son isn’t able to make it home on time but is doing his best, have a rule where they know there won’t be a negative consequence, so they don’t feel pressure to be unsafe driving home.

However, you need to be mindful of this if your teen begins taking advantage of this scenario.

Setting Consequences If a Curfew Is Broken

If your son tends to push boundaries and see how far he can go without getting in trouble, you may find yourself with a teen that doesn’t cooperate with the established curfew. When this happens, you need to act on the consequences that you laid out when discussing their curfew with them. These could range from a minor consequence if they were a few minutes late to a major consequence if they seriously violated the set curfew.

In a situation where your teenager arrives home past curfew, it’s best not to address it at the moment. Doing so can often lead to an excess of emotion that results in arguing, screaming, and lecturing — all of which will fall on deaf ears if your son isn’t in the right mindset to hear what you’re saying.

The following morning, sit down with your son and discuss what happened. Don’t allow your son to make excuses or manipulate the situation. Instead, go over what the issue is, discuss what they did wrong, and share ideas of how they could have handled the situation differently.

Every curfew violation should have a consequence, so your child understands that you aren’t playing around and they need to follow the rules you put in place. These consequences can range from not being allowed out for a weekend to no access to a car to taking their phone or computer away — determine what would be the best motivation to get your son to follow the established curfew.

Whatever the consequences, establish them beforehand so your teen is aware of them before they break the curfew. Just as you involved them in setting the curfew time, involve your teen in the establishment of consequences too.

If your troubled teen is refusing to follow their established curfew, consider seeking outside help. At Liahona Treatment Center, our therapists are trained to help teen boys overcome various mental health struggles and encourage a sense of responsibility and accountability.

Contact us today to find out how we can help your family.

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