Teen Curfew: The Psychiatrist’s Perspective

Curfews are one matter that has been a source of disagreement between parents and their children. Most especially for teens.

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Adolescents nowadays are fast transitioning into nocturnal creatures. That is, as parents are ready to settle down for the day and get some much-needed rest from the day’s demands and activities, teenagers are getting ready for the actual social fun to begin. It has been an ongoing cause of worry for parents, as their adolescents seem to embrace hanging out, going to parties and events, dating–a majority of which take place in the night time.

It is essential for parents to make their children understand the value of curfews. Aside from giving parents peace of mind regarding their adolescents, teens need to understand that curfews are more than just safety and getting home before the clock strikes twelve. It’s about setting limits, learning social responsibility and employing common courtesy.

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According to Richard Zwolinski, LMHC “There is an ongoing debate about whether or not teenagerhood is a cultural phenomenon or whether it is a description of a transformation that occurs mentally and emotionally during adolescence.” However, as the years pass by, adolescents are more eager to fight for their social freedom, and parents are more challenged more than ever in setting up curfew times for their growing adolescents.

Bottom line? Include your adolescents in the decision-making process. It will pave the way for a deep understanding of both parties and strengthen the parent-teen relationship by being open-minded. Sandi Lindgren PCC, LICSW says “Early adolescents (ages 12-14), middle adolescents (ages 15-17), and late adolescents (ages 18-20) all have different needs from their caregivers based on where they are at developmentally.”



Here are some tips on how your parents can effectively set up curfew together with your adolescents:


  • Negotiate A Flexible Curfew

A good starting point is asking your adolescent what the most reasonable time for curfew is, then start with the negotiation process. Setting and clarifying the curfew schedule at an early point will prevent future arguments. Take every significant aspect into consideration, and work together with your adolescent towards agreeing to a curfew schedule subject to the specific day’s activities. It will ensure there are understanding and clarity on both perspectives.As Linda Esposito, LCSW used to say, “If you master a few core principles for setting rules like a boss, your teen will be a lot easier to manage.”


  • Discuss Curfew Rules

Clearly define the consequences of breaking the curfew with your teen. Having early awareness of the aftermath of defying the curfew schedule will give rise to minimal discussion and arguments. In addition, the logic is that you are saving your teen from deciding when to leave the party seeing as there is already a predetermined rule, and he or she is ultimately escaping peer pressure.

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  • Avoid Heated Late-Night Discussions

If there are times that your adolescents defy the curfew rules, keep in mind that late-night discussions are hardly productive and may just encourage rebellion. Tell your teen you are relieved that he or she is home. Your teen can just go to bed and talk about it in the morning. Keep an open mind. There might be a reasonable purpose as to why your teen came home later than expected.


  • Avoid Being Too Rigid

It is best to set a  curfew schedule, but still avoid being too rigid and strict. Aside from potentially causing rebellion, imposing a very strict deadline can hinder your young adolescent from growing up into a socially responsible adult.

Once set on his or her own, with the absence of knowledge on social independence, your teen may abuse this newfound freedom and make decisions that may cause risky, harmful and unfavorable consequences.