Why a Curfew is Important in Raising Teens
If you have teenagers, the curfew is an age-old curse for both kids and parents. But it’s also one of the kindest things you can do for your children in the long run. Here’s why a curfew is worthwhile for your teens—both now and in the future.
- Sleep habits. Teenagers have a natural tendency to stay up later than grown-ups—but they also have to wake up early for school. Kids at this age are stuck between a rock and a hard place, with a “sleep clock” that won’t let them feel drowsy until late at night, but a society that tells them to get up at the crack of dawn. A curfew helps keep the night-owl tendency somewhat under control—better up ‘til midnight than 3 or 4 a.m.
- Mood. Sleep studies have linked teens and young adults who go to bed earlier with higher levels of happiness and fulfillment than “night owls.” Helping your kids get to bed as early as possible will help them wake more comfortably and feel happier overall. A young mind that is always exhausted is a young mind that is ripe for discomfort, frustration, and even depression. Sleep is your teenager’s best friend—help them get it when they can.
- Consistency. Teenagers who know that their parents mean what they say and say what they mean are more likely to understand and abide by boundaries. As adolescents, that consistency models the kind of accountability that can teach a teen how to keep up with deadlines in school and behave with respect at home. A regular curfew lets your teen(s) know what to expect. Be consistent with them, and they’re more likely to be consistent with you.
- Self-regulation. Expecting your teen to follow that regular curfew can help them learn to regulate their actions. The teen years are marked by a notable increase in compulsive behavior. Having regular rules and routines can help a teen feel a sense of stability during these uncertain years when everything seems to change so rapidly, and teach a teen how to begin to regulate activities and behaviors on his (or her) own.
A curfew doesn’t have to be unbendable to be effective. Take into account special occasions, weekends, and your teen’s desires. If you have a teen who is still somewhat communicative, don’t throw away that connection on rigidity. Take the middle path—enforce the curfew, but be willing to bend on those major occasions or if your teen is particularly deserving of a break.
Kids with curfews may hate them, but in the long run the curfew can help a teen learn to be more accountable, more stable, and even more cheerful. Curfews can also help to keep your kids out of dangerous circumstances or “mature” situations. Show your teen you care—give them a curfew. It may be a few years before they really appreciate it, but it’s worth it now… while it can really make a difference.
Author Bio: +Michelle Gordon is a sleep expert who researches and writes about sleep and health, and is an online publisher for the latex mattress specialist Latexmattress.org.