What’s an Appropriate Curfew for High School Seniors?

Deciding on a curfew for your high school senior can be a bit of a challenge. You want your child to feel independent their senior year, as they are going to be 18 soon if they haven’t turned 18 yet, but you also want to protect them and ensure they stay focused and disciplined. Setting a curfew is important so that the rules of your home are respected and for your teenager’s protection. A study in the United States found that over half of the car accidents in the evening are alcohol related, whereas less than a fifth of the accidents during the day are alcohol related. Having a proper curfew in place can protect your teenage from drunk driving and alcohol related incidents and help ensure that they take care of their most important priorities.

curfew priorities

When picking your curfew consider what your teenager’s preferences are so that there is little to no disagreement. Your teenager will probably want some flexibility in his or her curfew on the weekends, but school nights should have an early curfew. On school nights it’s best to set the curfew around 10:00 P.M. at the latest. If your high school senior needs to be up earlier for any particular reason such as sports or extra-curriculars then you might set their curfew earlier at 9:00 P.M. or so for week nights. For weekends, any time around 12:00 to 12:30 A.M. is generally the latest recommended curfew.

If your teenager drives you might need to set the curfew to be earlier, as there might be a curfew law in your area for teenage driving after a certain period of time. Also keep in mind the reality that teenagers do consume alcohol at parties, and because of that you need to discuss drunk driving and its serious dangers with them. Regardless of how late you set your child’s curfew, it is appropriate to always know where they are. They should let you know what their plans are on the nights that they plan on staying out.

In spite of your best efforts, your teenager will probably stay out past their curfew sometimes. Many parents will punish their children by grounding them or taking away privileges, but punishment is not going to be quite as effective for a senior in high school. This is because they are usually ready leave home, and will be more resentful to being punished because they feel they are already an adult and don’t need to be punished like a child. To avoid a fight, simply let your teenager know that you are disappointed that he or she didn’t follow your curfew and that you set the curfew because you love them and want them to be safe.

At this stage of development, communication is more important than punishment for your child. There isn’t much you can do if your child insists on staying out past their curfew if they are a senior, as in less than a year they will be legal adults if they aren’t one already. You should always remind your child to keep in touch with you and let you know what they are doing, but you have to take a different approach to keeping tabs on them at this point.

You should want your high school senior to have more personal responsibility, but you also want to make sure that they take care of their school work and other obligations and don’t allow their social life to interfere with their most important priorities. If you find that your child’s social life is seriously affecting his or her school work or other responsibilities it’s best to have a sit down with them and discuss making more responsible choices and changing their curfew to an earlier time if necessary.

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