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Curfew and bedtime are two of the more negotiable household rules. During adolescence, when boys and girls are getting their first taste of independence, they probably spend the equivalent of a law-school education making their case to Mom and Dad for just a little extra time to stay out or to stay up.

What is not negotiable are the consequences for disobeying curfew, except in the event of unforeseen circumstances. So that the punishment conforms to the crime, deduct time from future curfews, depending on the severity of the infraction. If your youngster straggles in an hour late, perhaps the next time he goes out with his friends, he has to come home an hour earlier than usual. Two hours past curfew buys a teenager a Friday or Saturday night confined to home. Long-term punishments, such as grounding the offender for one month, amount to overkill and will very likely do more harm than good.

Q: When setting a curfew, how do I know what’s reasonable and what’s not? All of my son’s friends have to be home at different times, so it’s hard to base my decision on what other parents do.

A: You can start by consulting the following table, which gives parents general guidelines appropriate for each stage of adolescent development.

Let’s use as an example a fourteen-year-old boy. If he has school or other early morning commitments the next day, he really should be home no later than nine o’clock at night; if it’s a vacation day coming up, between 10 P.M. and 11 P.M. is reasonable.

That’s your starting point. Now factor in the following:

  1. How mature and responsible is he overall?
    If you feel confident that he knows how to watch out for his own safety and you trust he is where he tells you he will be, perhaps you extend the curfew. Some kids may not need a curfew beyond a community or state law regulating when adolescents must be off the road.
  2. Does he usually comply with curfew?
    Again, his past behavior will influence how lenient or strict you are.
  3. What activity is he engaged in?
    If he is shooting hoops in the park, he should be home by sundown, but if he’s studying with a friend, he can stay out later.
  4. If he’s attending a baseball game, concert, school function or other event, what time does it let out and how long will it take him to get home?
    This will help determine whether or not you allow him some extra time to perhaps get a bite to eat before heading home.
  5. How much sleep does he usually need?
    The average adolescent requires about nine hours of shut-eye a night, some more, some less. If your youngster is drowsy in the morning, you’ll want to move up his bedtime, and with it, his curfew.

Basic Guidelines for Setting Curfews

 

 

During Early Adolescence Ages 12 to 13

During Middle Adolescence Ages 14 to 16

During Late Adolescence Ages 17 to 21

On most nights prior to school or other morning activities or responsibilities: 

7 P.M. to 8 P.M. 

8 P.M. to 9 P.M. 

10 P.M. to 11 P.M.

On most nights not followed by school, or other morning activities or responsibilities: 

9 P.M. to 10 P.M. 

10 P.M. to 11 P.M.

12 A.M. to 1 A.M.

Following a special event, such as a rock concernt and so on, he must be home by ____, depending on distance and travel time:

Negotiable

___

No later than 12 A.M. 

Negotiable 

___

No later than 12 A.M.

Negotiable

___

No later than 2 A.M.

 

 

Last Updated
10/10/2014
Source
Caring for Your Teenager (Copyright © 2003 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.