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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?

thomas said...

Hey people I'm 15 and the reason why kids my age sneak out (I don't sneak out ever though) is that their bored to death. Honestly the best way to fix it is to actually do cool things with your child and get off your high horse as a parent. Then, they will want to hangout with you more and not sneak off...

MicahF said...

So often as parents we are just beginning to figure out how to handle the current stage of our children's lives, and then they begin the next stage that completely changes the rules we found success with.

Parents, remember that teen 'children' are young adults. In these teenage years, we are attempting to train them to be independent and think for themselves. Yes, we have a few certain 'house rules' that are not negotiable, but they sometimes need the latitude to see for themselves the good or bad that results from their actions.

Reflect and ask yourself, 'do I speak AT my teen, or do I speak WITH my teen?'. Do you speak with them with the respect that you would your neighbor or an acquaintance? If you speak with them in the tone that you are the dictator and they have no input then think about how would you fair under such authority. This is a difficult transition in thinking for many parents.

Because of the severity of defiance of my teen son, my wife and I reached the point that we cleaned out his room. All he had left was a mattress on the floor and some clothes folded and neatly stacked up on the floor. He didn't have a door to his bedroom. This was one of the things that about 3 years later our son said helped him a lot. As he became more trustworthy, he gained things back. Now when his younger sister is showing similar attitudes he did "in my dark years," as he refers to it, he speaks up and tries to reason with her much like we did with him. He's really blossomed into a beautiful man. No, he isn't perfect, but at least he has such a better attitude now and usually quickly recognizes his issues and will apologize unsolicited. These things make us so happy to see him growing in a healthy direction!

A part of their training is sometimes allowing their actions to have real consequences, either from breaking our set rules or the law of the land. Maybe they need to have their phone taken from them, or maybe they need their room cleaned out, but whatever it is, make sure that it is done with respect and not done just because you are really angry with them. And a note about the phone, it is NOT a right to have one, it is a privilege. Don't let them convince you their grades will suffer because they don't have a phone. This is not the case. There are alternatives if they CHOOSE to make use of them.

Something that is important that is often overlooked is spending quality time with your teens. So often we think that they are growing up and they don't need us as parents so much anymore. This is far from the reality! They have a whole set of new life challenges they are trying to face.

Don't for a minute think that you know exactly what your teen is going through at school or elsewhere. YOU DO NOT. It's is not the same today as it was when you went to school.

They need you now more than ever. They need your insights and wisdom to make decisions for themselves. They don't need someone to control their every movement. They need to be free to openly communicate and not be chastised by you if they have done something that wasn't so smart. Calmly LISTEN and help them to reach conclusions for themselves. The caveat is that this can only take place if you make time for your teen. Discuss activities that you can do together and write them down ahead of time and make a definite plan for it. It's important to have a mood set so that all are enjoying things so that communication can happen more freely in a positive environment.

There's no quick and easy fix for a teen that is going through these difficult times. Remember to always show more love and positive reinforcement than to show the upset side of you.

Always be consistent and so that they never have to wonder if it's ok to do something one day and not on another day.

Don't give up on them!


It's a selfish act to disappear at night, parents aren't that bad so I think teenagers should grow up and face life without leaving house at night because only trouble will come of it.

Unknown said...

I have caught my 14 year old boy sneaking out and drinking, the police even got involved the last time. We have to even go to court. I honestly dont feel like he gives a shot. I took his phone away and activites. Today is the last day of school so now I dont know what to do with him over the summer.

Hayley Molesworth said...

What are 'cool things' to do? I have tried providing opportunities for my 14 year old, swimming, fencing, archery, cinema, football, rugby, games nights etc he has no interest in anything no hobbies other than hanging with friends that are leading him down a dark road.

jamie said...

Do things that he wants to to or is interested in. For me it sometimes means watching a series on Netflix that he likes (even though I don't!), or listening to the music he likes to right (even though it's not my style) or playing a video game with him the he likes..that sort or thing. That way he knows you are interested in him and you are maybe willing to do things that you don't love to do, just to spend time with him because your relationship is that important to you!

Anonymous said...

When our daughter was 15,she was sneaking out at night quite often to be with her friends and boys.We tried everything to punish her,but to no avail!One day i was at a friends house visiting her,who has a mentally retarded 17 year old daughter who is in diapers 24/7.I was telling my friend about how the daughter is sneaking out at night and the punishments we have used on her dont work!As we were talking,she had to change her daughters diapers and i watched her pin the dry cloth diapers on her then put the adult size rubberpants back on over them.I told her how much her daughter looked like a baby and she me that the cloth diapers and rubberpants work well.She then told me that maybe the cloth diapers and rubberpants would work on my daughter as punishment and to prevent her from sneaking out.She then gave me several cloth diapers,diaper pins,and three pair of rubberpants and i took them home.That evening after supper,dad and i went to her room and i brought out the diapers and rubberpants and told her she has to wear them to bed and as punishment.Dad threatned her with his belt if she didnt comply,so she laid on her bed and i pinned the diapers on her,then put the rubberpants on over them.She was quite embarrassed,but making her wear them to bed every night prevented her from sneaking out any more!

Unknown said...

Our 15 year-old daughter snuck out and I caught her via the cat meowing at the basement guest room door. She removed the window screen, climbed out the window well, and went off with her friends. Since then, I do "night watch" and my husband handles the "day shift." Our oldest teen seems to think since we bought a car for her to drive, that it is hers and she can come and go as she pleases! Uh, NO! We had a big row with her about his matter tonight and I had to remove the rear license plate of said car until she agreed it is not HER car and she is under our roof, thus, under our rules!

Parenting these days feels like an endlessly 24/7 job and we parents are subjected to the crap of it daily, it seems!


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