A teen who sneaks out without permission is taking some drastic steps away from personal accountability and responsible behavior. When your teenager behaves in ways that risk his safety and challenge your authority, send him a clear message about this unacceptable behavior. Punishment should get his attention and help him learn the value of managing negative impulses.
Before you can mete out effective punishments to an errant teenager, lay down the house rules so there’s no question about what you expect from her, advises physician Wayne Yankus, writing for Education.com. If you’re having trouble with wayward antics – coming home after curfew or sneaking out – place clear guidelines about what you expect and what will happen if your teen chooses not to follow the rules. Promise consistent application of the rules and the consequences so your teen understands that you will enforce the rules.
Natural consequences are those that occur without any effort or intervention from you. In a situation where your teen has snuck out, ramifications from this action might be severe enough to get her attention. For example, if your teen snuck out and was out after local curfew, perhaps local law enforcement picked her up for a curfew violation. The penalty for curfew violation generally involves a court appearance and a fine – both of which would be unpleasant for your teen. Facing these natural consequences may be a deterrent against similar behavior in the future, suggests Carl Pickhardt, with the Psychology Today website.
If you decide to impose consequences for your teen’s rebellious actions, make it a logical consequence so the punishment matches the infraction, advises licensed clinical professional counselor Megan Devine, with the Empowering Parents website. For example, sneaking out of the house one night might mean that your teen needs to stay in for the next entire weekend. As frustrated as you may be about your adolescent’s behavior, resist the urge to give excessive punishments as consequences because you may incite either extreme anger or indifference from your teen as she reacts to the punishment.
Involve your teenager in the punishment decision, suggests the American Academy of Pediatrics HealthyChildren.org website. In the process of discussing the incident, throw the ball into your teen’s court and ask him what he thinks a reasonable and effective consequence might be for sneaking out. Your teen might even surprise you by proposing a punishment that’s more severe than you had in mind. Discuss the punishment together and arrive at a mutually agreeable consequence – perhaps loss of cellphone or grounding from the computer for a specific period.