How to Set Teen Curfews and Establish Consequences

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A curfew establishes the time you expect your teen to be back home in the evenings. It's a way for you to keep your teen safe and for your teen to demonstrate respect for the rest of the family.


You should establish a curfew based on what's best for your teen and what's best for your family. If you have to wake up early for a job, or your teen has to wake up especially early for school, you may want to establish an earlier curfew. If you live in a high crime neighborhood, an earlier curfew may also be important to keep your teen safe.

Of course, your teen's habits should also be a major factor. If your teen struggles to get up for school in the morning or he struggles to be responsible in other areas of his life, he may not be able to handle a later curfew. 

Curfew rules can be adjusted as your teen grows older and shows an increased ability to handle more responsibility. The curfew for a 14-year-old will likely be different from that of a 17-year-old teen

Teen Curfew Do's

There are several things you can do to establish a safe and appropriate curfew for your teen. Consider these guidelines:

  • Set an appropriate blanket curfew. A blanket curfew is a time set that your teen will have to schedule their activities around. It doesn’t change and helps your teen understand limits and boundaries. It does not have to be the same time on weeknights as on weekends, but it does remain consistent from weekday to weekday and weekend to weekend. You can always adjust this time for specific reasons.
  • Talk to your teen about being responsible. Discuss the trust you are placing in your teen to be home on time. Explain that you will still need to know where he is and what he is doing. Create a behavior contract and agree to the times you both have set.
  • Allow some leeway on special occasions, such as proms. When your teen is going to have a special activity, discuss your expectations ahead of time. Extend the curfew when it's warranted but make sure you establish a clear curfew time. 
  • Set a reasonable time for all involved. If you would like to get some sleep before midnight on a Friday evening, then set the time for 11 p.m. Make it clear that you'll wait up for your teen to make sure he gets home on time.

Teen Curfew Don'ts

There are a few unhealthy traps that can be easy to fall into when it comes to establishing a curfew for your teen. Here are some general guidelines: 

  • Don't get sucked into what "everyone else is allowed to do." While your teen's best friend may have an 11 p.m. curfew, it doesn't mean you have to extend your child's curfew. If you have to wake up at 5 a.m. for work, and in your household, everyone needs to be in by 9 p.m. so you can relax and go to bed.
  • Don't allow your teen to delay his curfew spontaneously. If your teen calls 30 minutes before his curfew time to say he wants to spend the night at a friend's house, be wary. That may be a sign something is up. 
  • Don't allow your teen to declare a curfew time. Don't allow your teen to tell you what time he's going to be home. Set a clear curfew well in advance and tell him he needs to check in with you if his plans change.
  • Explain your expectations if your teen is running late. Obviously, you don't want your teen to speed to get home on time. Talk about your expectations if he's running late and emphasize that it's important to get home safely, even if he's a few minutes late. 


It's important to give your teen a consequence when he violates the curfew. You might decide to implement a minor consequence if your teen is a few minutes late with a major consequence for a serious violation. 

1 Source
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  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Staying Out Late and Curfews.

By Denise Witmer
Denise Witmer is a freelance writer and mother of three children, who has authored several books and countless articles on parenting teens since 1997.