Maybe your teen sneaking out is karmic payback for the wool you pulled over your parent's eyes, but -- although you might understand her motivation -- you've got to mom-up and protect your teenager from her own unwise impulses. Be completely honest about the damaged trust in your relationship. Perhaps knowing how disappointed you are will be punishment enough.
Talking to a teen who sneaks out might not seem like a drastic enough punishment, but it can be if you make her sit still for a lengthy lecture. Discuss your feelings about her deception at length, and use your own experiences to emphasize the dangers of being out at night without parental knowledge or protection. Talk about the possible consequences of being out after curfew, such as the increased risk of drunk drivers, getting picked up by the police or running into malicious types prowling at night. Also, make your teen understand that the trust between the two of you has been broken, and will not be repaired easily. If it seems like the message isn’t getting through, have a full-scale intervention. Invite family friends, aunts, uncles and grandparents to talk to your teen about the dangers of making dangerously unwise decisions. At the end of the talk, ask your teen to promise not to sneak out again, and ensure that she understands the consequences if she does.
If your teen continues to sneak out after your talk, start taking stuff away, beginning with her ability to come and go as she pleases. Help her to realize that she can only experience freedom in direct proportion to her own maturity and responsibility, and if she won't do her part, you have to do your job as a parent and scale her privileges way back. If simply grounding her isn’t enough, take away her creature comforts, such as her access to TV, movies, cell phone, home phone, computer, Internet access and I-pod. Return her access to freedom and entertainment slowly over time, but only after hard-earned milestones, such as consistently obeying your rules, not sneaking out, getting to school on time every day, keeping her grades up and doing household chores.
If you’re feeling creative, implement an out-of-the-box solution, such as rigging an alarm or setting up a noisy trap that will alert you when your teen tries to sneak out -- or sneak back in. Onlineparentingcoach.com, a website dedicated to parenting out-of-control children and adolescents, recommends installing motion sensor lights or hanging bells too high above doors for your teen to remove. Perhaps she’ll be too embarrassed to try again after getting caught red-handed.
An article at Disneyfamily.com recounts one exasperated mother's experience with a sneaky teen. When she woke to find her teen was gone, she wanted to call the police, but her husband convinced her to wait in the dark room for the child to return. If yours is the first face your teen sees upon sneaking back in, she'll be caught off-guard and forced to face the seriousness of her deceit. Alternatively, you can show your teen that she’s not the only stealthy one, and, when you hear her sneaking out, sneak out right behind her. Say, “If you’re going, I’m going. I’m your parent and you’re too young to be out this late unsupervised.” Eventually your teen will realize she can’t get away with repeatedly ignoring your rules, and she’ll stay in the house where she belongs.
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