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How To Stop Your Teen From Sneaking Out At Night

"Our 14 year old keeps sneaking out in the middle of the night. We've screwed the windows shut, called police. She says she sorry...but she can't be that sorry if she keeps doing it. What is the best way to handle this? We've told her it is a safety issue more than anything else."

You and your husband need to have a series of sit-down discussions with her. What needs to happen is that you end up with an agreement whereby she agrees she will not sneak out and you will allow some dating or other privilege. There are rules that are important to you; there are behaviors and freedoms important to her. You and she have to discuss these until you reach an agreement. You don't want her running away or sneaking out. At the same time, you want to keep a relationship with her. Things should be discussed until you can reach a compromise that as parents you can live with, and as a teenage girl she can live with the final agreement as well. Things may need to be written down. Maybe a written contract will result.

These kinds of situations are difficult -- and delicate. Parents feel they should be able to dictate rules. But teens have a lot of power -- and mobility -- so a compromise is necessary. The goal is to come up with a workable solution that allows everyone to continue living together without hostilities and threats.

In the meantime, here are some concrete tips:

1. Be sure to explain the dangers of what she is doing. If possible the best thing you can do is to have an alarm system on your home and to be sure before you go to bed that all windows and doors are closed and the alarm is set.

2. Hang bells on the door high enough to make it hard to quietly remove them. Also place screws in the screen to prevent the child from leaving through the window.

3. If you have a girl, keep her make-up in your bathroom. Chances are if she is sneaking out she will be going somewhere and will want to look her best. Most teenage girls won't be caught dead around friends without her face on!

4. If you have an alarm, install alarm codes. You can assign codes to different people in your house and it will record when they arm and disarm the alarm. It will also send you a text message or let you check online to see when the person is logging on or off of the alarm. You can use this data to prove that you know the exact times your daughter has been outside of the house at night!

5. Motion sensor lights can be a good way to catch her and potential friends sneaking around the house. The drawback here is that it might catch other night crawlers like possums. Couple the motion sensor lights with an alarm system for a sure-fire way to catch your teenager if she’s climbing out the windows or unlocking doors late at night. If the teenager does try to sneak out, the piercing sound of the security system will quickly alert everyone in the house (and neighborhood!) that the girl is trying to sneak out. Alarm systems protect the whole family and provide the additional safety of making sure your teenager is spending the whole night where she belongs – in bed!

6. Perhaps the most important step in preventing your child from sneaking out is to expect they will. So many parents think their child won't, but chances are they will. Next, leave your bedroom door open at night while you are sleeping.

7. Set an alarm to check on her at odd hours throughout the night. With any luck, you’ll catch her gone & be sitting calmly on her bed when she comes back. The shock of being caught will not only put the bad behavior out on the table, you’ll also be able to immediately tell if she’s high on drugs, alcohol or just seen the boyfriend.

8. Talk with her. Just acknowledging that you know she is sneaking out is a big step towards getting everything out in the open. Tell her why it’s not safe to sneak out and explain what can happen to her late at night. If she’s meeting up with friends or a boyfriend, expand your talk to explain the dangerous of drug use, late-night partying, having sex too young and more. After the talk, punish her. You need to show her that this behavior is not acceptable in your house.

My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents


Anonymous said...

Mark, My husband and I recently purchased your on line program. Our youngest is giving us a run for our money. It started in Oct. while we were out of town she hosted a drinking party at our home, the cops came. Needless to say my old parenting techniques ie. scare them to death went into affect. She was grounded for almost three months, we did it very organized sighting each offense and applying time for each. My thought was over kill and she would know we meant business.

Two weeks ago she was picked up by the cops for curfew violation, she had snuck out. Privileges were once again removed for 2 week period, our rational to her was until she paid for the fine. We had a instant, just this week where we caught her lying about where she was, had gone to an friends house (the mother of this friend recently was arrested on some kind of drug charge) Cally had been told that while this friend was welcome to come to our house she was not to be at her house. While serving that punishment (3 days) She again snuck out, right under my nose....I knew something was up and was awake in my bedroom door open.....a friend of hers mother called her daughter was missing too...

This morning I was woken by my dogs ( I have taken to sleeping in the family room) My phone had been turned to mute ( a four steps procedure on my phone.could not happen by accident) A storm was present and the T.V. said to take cover....we woke the kids and had them go to the basement...the escape window was unlocked.

I know in my heart she was out again last night.

My question to you.....should we barricade the house? Have her sleep in our room, is there any way to keep her in the house?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Heather said...

We too are having problems with our 15 year old girl sneaking out. The first time we caught her we made her sleep on our floor for 2 days (along with the many other privileges we took away). The next time we caught her she was on the floor for over a week. She seemed miserable and acted like she wouldn't do it again. Guess what, she did it again. And actually this time took her Dad's truck. So I would have to say making her sleep on our floor didn't work for us.
We are at a loss of what to do with her. Nothing seems to be working. We've done all the suggestions and nothing seems to be sinking in to her that what she is doing is wrong.



Starlet Dunn said...

I have a 16 year old that has been doing the same tonight I was sitting in my liveing room eating dinner and after I ate I got up to go to the and decide to go to her room to ask her if she wanted anything and what to my suprize ya u guessed she had snuck out the window we have grounded her made her sleep in are room pretty much every thing so I decide I was going to call the cops and ask for advice and that gave me the number for county office and told me to call Monday and he said thay might place her in a group home till she can get some act right not some thing I want to do but I can't keep letting her run free and run us over I rather her be there then some were I don't know or better yet hurt or dead

Valarina Nelson said...

My son is 17 years old. I woke up this morning to find the back door unlock and my child gone. I don't know what to do. He keeps doing it. Nothing I do keeps him in the house. We have had discussion's about this situation but he still sneaks out. It's like he doesn't care. I guess I can wait until he's 18 then give him what he want... The front door! He's disrupting my house and I have other children and he's setting a bad example for them!

Chrissy Dunworth said...

Having the same problem w/our 14 yr old. Constantly sneaking out! Cops brought him home 3 nights ago @ 2:30am. I am so sad. We've taken away everything he has. Disassembled the computer. No Xbox, etc. I put in a call to put him back in therapy today. It would be so nice if a therapist got on here w/some solutions.

Tiffany said...

My 17 year old is doing the same thing. Every night he keeps watching me to see if and when I will fall asleep so he can sneak out. It's now affecting my sleep. I work long hours in a very stressful job and I can't seem to rest. I don't know what to do.

Theresa Calhoun said...

I'm a single parent trying to provide for my 17 yr old daughter. I work graveyard shift and my elderly mom stays with my daughter at night. She has been sneaking out the past couple months, and has been caught last week by not coming home until I walked in the door. I've taken every electronic, and lost as to the next step. Suggestions?

Mary-Catherine Wilks said...

My health is being impacted by the same but I don't know how to change how I react - can't seem to find the off switch for worry

Unknown said...

I am in the same boat. My son sneaks out after I go to bed. He doesn't come in till 2,3,4,5,6 o'clock in the morning and then won't go to school. I work full time and it's just me and him. I have to hide my car keys because he has taken my car 3 times. I've put pad locks on the inside of all my doors and screwed his window shut. I'm lost. Need help.

Vhanshaw said...

I'll be honest. I didn't not read their entire answer. I stopped at the part where the parents are to lock up her makeup, as if Walmart isn't 24h.
You need to sit her down and come up with an agreement as they suggested. Let her come to the conclusion of why it's important not to sneak out. The more she honors the agreement, reward her. Ask her questions about why she is sneaking out. Maybe the answer will surprise you.....or maybe not.

Vhanshaw said...

Remember how you felt at 15, 16, 17. I wanted freedom. This age group is almost out of the door. They are working on their independence, their autonomy. Simply ask them what are they missing that they need to sneak out. What can you agree is an acceptable time to come home. Set the consequences ahead of time and if they don't comply, in a calm voice, say what was our agreement.

It's Dev said...

Honestly, I'm a teen. I'm like. 15. And to be honest, I leave because my parents are over protective. If they don't like my friends, that's fine, because they don't know them like I do. And if they say not to leave, I dont care because i got shit to do. They had their chance to do things their way. They like to snoop around my room lookin for stuff like drugs. That pisses me off. So they obviously don't know me like that.

Anonymous said...

I am past reasoning with my 14 yr old and have chosen to declare him a minor out of control. State law allows a parent to do this and requires him to go before a judge and enter into a legal contract that, if broken, results in jail and misdemeanor charges. Sounds harsh typing this but He has zero respect for our rules and can lie to our faces without batting an eye!

Unknown said...

I am in the same boat. I have to admit my son has been a handful for about 3 years now. I don't know what to do with him. He seems to just be reckless. No amount of talking to him seems to work. I have taken his truck away and he still seeks out. I need help

I know he is smoking and drinking. If I'm bro g hone at of he was doing well in school I wouldn't see it as a problem. We live in a small community and it seems like everyone is doing something. But there is something out of control with my son. I'm open to suggetions. I have sought out the allanon groups help but i just dont know what else to do with him

Mcmshammy said...

What would be a good way of meeting half way. I have snooped through his stuff and have found stuff he shouldn't have. What do you suggest should happen then?


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