Be consistent but fair when disciplining your child to promote reflection -- not rebellion.

How to Punish Kids Who Sneak Out

by Cynthia Measom

When kids feel that parents are restricting their freedoms, they often take matters into their own hands. Unfortunately, this often means engaging in risky and rule-breaking behaviors -- such as sneaking out of the house at night. While you may want to ponder how you can ultimately reach a compromise with your child on privileges or curfews, punishment for sneaking out is warranted. Sneaking out is a violation of your trust and an act that places your child at risk. By enacting a punishment, you let your child know that violating house rules is unacceptable and results in consequences.

Sit down with your child and ask him to explain the reasons why he sneaks out of the house. For example, your child may have a curfew of 11 p.m. and all the rest of his friends are allowed to stay out until 12:30 p.m. Knowing your kid's motivations can help you reassess -- and possibly adjust -- your expectations or house rules in the future.

Ask your child why he thinks you believe sneaking out of the house is a bad idea. This will enable him to see your viewpoint.

Give your child an unpleasant consequence for sneaking out. For example, take away his phone for three days or give him a project -- washing the windows, cleaning the garage -- to do on the weekend.

Sit down with your child again, when the punishment officially ends, and state your expectations for his behavior going forward. This could also be a time to discuss a compromise that could prevent your child from thinking about sneaking out in the future.


  • Temporarily avoid disciplining when you're angry. Disciplining while angry can lead to irrational punishments.
  • Whatever punishment you give, stick to it. Your child needs to know you mean what you say. Knowing punishment is inevitable can be a powerful deterrent the next time he thinks about sneaking out.


  • Don't go overboard with your punishment, or it can backfire. For example, if you restrict your child from leaving the house for social reasons for six weeks, you can expect that she will find a way to socialize behind your back.
  • Keep in mind that sneaking out may indicate something more serious than just wanting to be out with friends. Your child could have be meeting with someone you don't approve of or engaging in illegal activities. Look for behavior, attitude or interest changes to support this theory.

About the Author

Based in Texas, Cynthia Measom has been writing various parenting, business and finance and education articles since 2011. Her articles have appeared on websites such as The Bump and Motley Fool. Measom received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.

Photo Credits

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