Parenting doesn’t necessarily get easier as your kids grow older. While it’s still as fulfilling, there are new boundaries to set and rules to enforce for kids of older ages. One of the most common battles parents will fight — especially as summer vacation approaches — is the nightly curfew.
Parents understand the importance of being home at a decent hour for health and safety. Kids, on the other hand, are more concerned about having a good time. There will almost assuredly be some pushback on any curfew that you set. The following advice aims to help you craft and enforce a curfew in the best way possible.
Be Willing to Compromise
The curfew you set needs to be reasonable for both parties. If you could have it your way, your kids would always be home before dark. Your children, however, would love to stay up late every night with friends. The best approach is to find some middle ground through rational compromise.
Let’s start with school nights when curfews need to be earlier. Perhaps curfew on a school night will coincide with family dinner. On weekends or over the summer, fewer obligations mean you can set later curfews. Sit down and coordinate curfew times with your children. Listen to each other’s arguments and come up with a reasonable time everyone can agree upon.
Another compromise to consider involves a cell phone for kids. In exchange for this coveted piece of tech, your kids must promise they will stay in touch with you regularly. Tell them you’ll allow a later curfew if they keep up their end of the bargain.
Leave the Door Open
When you set your initial curfew, don’t set it in stone forever. As your kids grow older and show they can be responsible, they should be able to earn a later curfew. Sometimes that promise alone is enough to make them behave and observe the curfew they currently have.
The basis of this concept is that kids may earn a later curfew through obedience. If they fail to keep their current curfew, they’ll receive a consequence, and you won’t be granting extensions anytime soon. If your child wants to push their curfew from 9 to 10, they must play by your rules.
The threat of a curfew being made earlier could be just as effective as the promise of an extension. While kids can be daring and misbehave, they’ll still acknowledge your authority as a parent. Don’t be afraid to put your foot down if meeting curfew becomes a recurring problem.
Look Up Local Curfew Laws
In some areas of the United States, local legislation will help build your curfew case. Some cities have set curfews for youth in the area in an effort to keep them safe and healthy. The times and ages vary from state to state, so you’ll need to look up the specifics for your region.
For example, Kansas City enforces a summer curfew of 10 p.m. for individuals under the age of 16. If you live in this area, use this regulation to let your kids know when they are expected to be home. If they argue, inform them they must follow the city ordinance — unless they plan to pay the fine!
For younger kids who aren’t hanging out with friends at night, a city curfew might not hold as much weight. However, you can use this information to explain to your kids the importance of being home at a decent hour.
Explain the Benefits
Which brings us to our next point — the importance of sleep. More than just the hours of sleep your child gets, a consistent sleep routine is essential to achieving a healthy lifestyle. If your kids understand the benefits of a good night’s sleep, they’ll be more willing to cooperate with a curfew.
If you have a teenager who is an athlete, explain how sleep is essential for optimal performance. Proper sleep ensures maximum amounts of energy and focus and allows the body to recover to avoid injury. Getting enough sleep also improves their education, social life, and overall health.
Help Your Kids to Schedule
Curfews will be easier to enforce when your family follows a reasonable schedule. An earlier curfew won’t seem so bad if smart scheduling helps your kids complete their tasks early enough to have free time leftover. In addition, later curfews may be justified if your children show they can properly keep up with their daily schedule.
School hours typically end at 3 p.m., barring any sort of after-school activities. If your kids want to play with friends after supper, let them know they must accomplish their scheduled tasks first. This might include any homework they have been assigned or chores they’re responsible for around the house. With this discipline, they can complete all of their tasks and still enjoy a fun evening with a reasonable curfew.
There’s still a chance that you get some resistance to any curfew that you set. However, this advice should help make the process of setting a curfew a little less painful. Just remember to be consistent with the rules that you set. Eventually, your kids will understand why curfews are important for them to follow.