How to Prevent Teenagers from Sneaking Out at Night
There comes a moment in a teenager’s life when they’re all about rebelling against their parents, their teachers, and everyone who is perceived as a figure of authority, be it in grand schemes of trying to show them who really is their own boss, or through small, almost insignificant acts of rebellion that go unnoticed most of the time. Once puberty hits and their body starts going through all the specific changes that bring a sudden influx of hormones through their body. It’s normal for them to go through various mood swings now and then, to feel misunderstood because of all the emotions they feel and have to manage accompanied with all the peer pressure thrown on them from their group of friends, their teachers and more often than not, from their families as well. All that, coupled with the responsibility and duties handed to them by their school, with homework and exams placing stress on them, it’s easy to figure out why they might overreact or act out sometimes, whenever they feel like the whole world is against them.
However, acting out shouldn’t be disregarded as typical teen behavior if it goes beyond common sense, as it gets them used to bad behavior as a routine. Sneaking out at night is one of those rebellious acts which shouldn’t be treated lightly, though sneaking out particularly is not so much all about a teen’s nature to go against their parents, it’s a matter of education whether the teen will follow the set of rules installed in the household or not. There is a huge leap from not doing their homework once or twice and coming home with a bad grade, or not respecting their bedtime by staying on their phone a little longer – to actually leaving the house during the night, without a parent’s permission or without even letting them know first, and sneaking off to only where they know they will be going.
As such, the act of sneaking out at night should raise plenty of alarm signs for the parents, and it means that maybe you need to take a step back and reevaluate what you’ve been doing or not doing until now, that might be a factor in what determined the child to leave home on their own past curfew.
Personally, I can’t imagine how a child could manage to go all the way through the plan of sneaking out and still expect to be met with no consequences upon their return, or once their parents eventually find out about their secret leaves. It shows a clear lack of respect for the figure of authority in their life, be that a parent or a tutor of any kind, which should be the first thing a parent should seek to work on regarding correcting their child’s behavior. After all, it would be useless to try to block them from sneaking off again if there are no attempts at fixing the root of the issue first, so it doesn’t happen again.
So how do you get to prevent your teen from sneaking out at night?
The solutions are all related to how you go about their education. The first step you can take once you have caught them sneaking back in, or trying to leave the house, is to keep them where you found them standing, and to try to avoid making a scene or overreacting. They know they did something worthy of getting them in trouble and they are already expecting punishment, yelling or scolding, depending on the case. What you need to do is figure out a form of appropriate response to it all, and come up with a suitable punishment for the teen, in order to first and former let them know that this kind of behavior is not excusable at all, and needs to be abandoned altogether.
Depending on what your teen likes to do in their free time, you can orientate your punishments towards banning or taking away things that they have an interest in, in order to motivate them to think twice about sneaking off the next time. If they like playing on the computer a lot, if they have any sport-related hobbies, banning their use of certain devices or gadgets can make them reconsider stepping out of the house at night after a rule has been installed against it if they want to be allowed to keep playing.
As far as physically stopping them from being able to sneak out again, you should not go out of your way to make their room escape-proof or anything like that. Make it known that unless they make the choice to not sneak off again, their punishments and bans will only increase and let them make the choice of dropping this bad habit themselves.
The most efficient way to get them to alter their behavior, however, is to bring the dangers of sneaking out to their attention and discuss it all with them. Talk about the risks of going out at night without you as parents being aware of their whereabouts and how it would render you unable to help if they got in trouble or got hurt, even just by accident. Depending on where you live as well, you should bring to their attention if the neighborhood is safe or not and maybe try to find out if the ones your teen is meeting up with friends of theirs from school, or if the circle of people welcomes other, potentially dangerous strangers or “friends of a friend”.
Whatever the case may be within your teen’s clique, or whoever the friend who encourages sneaking out turns out to be, they’re a bad influence and the power they have over your teen needs to be addressed as well. Peer pressure is the main reason for teen drama and it’s best to teach your child how to avoid and deal with it should they ever need to do that.
Make sure your teen acknowledges all the risks you present to them, and that they take note of their punishments and try to improve your communication with them in order to rebuild trust and comfort in each other, so they may come to you with their issues or hangout plans instead of trying to go behind your back about them.