Why do teenagers sneak out?As a teenager, missing out on even the littlest moments can seem detrimental. If you aren’t allowing your child to extend their curfew or attend an unsupervised gathering at a friend’s home, they might try to find a way to attend anyway. Whether they plan to sneak out and engage in harmless fun or get involved in more dangerous activities like drinking, doing drugs, or having sex, it’s important to prevent this behavior from happening. If nothing is done to stop your child from sneaking out, they’re likely to keep breaking the rules — which can lead to terrible consequences for you and your teenager. While you might not always be able to prevent your teenager from sneaking out of the house at night, there are measures you can take to help them understand the dangers behind sneaking out. If these measures don’t work, you must enforce consequences to demonstrate to your child how serious you are.
How to prevent your teenager from sneaking outBefore excessively locking down your home to keep your teenager in at night, we recommend connecting with your child and helping them understand why sneaking out is a dangerous idea. Let them know your stance on the subject and communicate the consequences they will face if they don’t abide by your rules. Here are a few steps you can take to reduce your teenager’s chances of sneaking out:
- Understand why your teen wants to sneak out – If you catch your teenager sneaking out, sit down with them to get a better idea of why they are engaging in this behavior. Ensure you have an open dialogue and don’t get upset or shut them down. Allowing them to discuss their feelings freely will allow for a healthier conversation. By understanding why they are sneaking out, you can compromise or find a way to adjust to some of their needs.
- Outline the risks associated with sneaking out – As a teenager, it can be hard to see the big picture. They are only aware of the here and now — not thinking of the risks they might experience when going out after curfew. Sit down with your troubled teen to review safety issues, crime statistics, and car accident fatalities that happen in the middle of the night.
- Reduce their electronics use at night – When your teenager has access to a phone, tablet, or laptop, they’re more likely to experience the feeling of missing out. They will have access to social media where they see activities that their friends are engaging in that they want to be a part of, which convinces them to sneak out. By taking away your teenager’s electronics at bedtime, they won’t be able to succumb to peer pressure and sneak out.
- Engage with your teen – In some cases, your teenager might be sneaking out because they find more value in hanging out with their friends. By improving your relationship with your child and engaging them in meaningful family activities that they enjoy, they’re less likely to be persuaded to sneak out because they’ll be enjoying their time under your roof.
What to do if your teen sneaks outSometimes your troubled teen will refuse to listen and may continue sneaking out. You must follow through with any consequences that you had laid out as a punishment for sneaking out. By following through, even after one instance, your teenager will begin to understand that you are serious about this matter and will be less likely to do it. It can also help to include your teen in setting the consequences. That way they don’t feel as if they’re being controlled, but they are more a part of the conversation. Consequences for sneaking out can include:
- Restricting your teenager’s access to electronics, including their phone, computer, tablet, and television
- Grounding your troubled teen from hanging out with friends or participating in after-school activities
- Giving your teen additional chores such as taking out the trash, emptying the dishwasher, or vacuuming
When to take more drastic measuresWhen you’ve done everything mentioned above, and your teenager still refuses to listen, more drastic measures must be taken. In more severe cases, you may need to:
- Install motion sensor lights to make it more apparent when a teenager sneaks out (or into) your home.
- Add an alarm to your teenager’s room or window to alert you if your teenager is attempting to sneak out.
- Check on your teenager multiple times throughout the night to ensure they remain in their bedroom the entire time.