Dear Your Teen:
I need help setting up a reasonable curfew for my 13-year-old daughter. She is very responsible and is just starting to want to walk around our small town with her friends on these long summer nights. What is a good time to have her home by? What do you think is an appropriate summer curfew for 13-year-olds? What time should a 13 year old come home?
EXPERT | Barbara Greenberg, Ph.D.
This is one of the most frequently asked questions and, as usual, I am delighted to weigh in. I am a strong believer in setting different curfews for 12- or 13-year-old kids versus older teens. Additionally, a curfew for 13-year-olds like your daughter should vary depending on whether or not you are considering a school night curfew or a weekend curfew.
A 13-Year-Old’s Curfew
You make my answer a bit easier here because you are referring to summer nights. Nonetheless, not all summer nights are alike. During the week many of our kids are going to camp or other structured daily activities. Frequently, the weekends are less structured and the kids have the flexibility to sleep in.
Having said that, I suggest a weekday curfew for 13-year-olds of somewhere between 8 and 10 p.m. during the weekends.
Of course, there is some flexibility here and that is entirely up to you and your child and your child’s maturity and responsibility level. Nonetheless, I would suggest no later than 11 p.m. on the weekends and during special nights during the week. As far, as I am concerned nothing good happens after 11 p.m. for 13-year-olds who are hanging around together as a group. There is also no reason for a young teen to come home after 8 p.m. during the week if they have activities that they have to wake up early for the next day.
Our young teens also need to get enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that teens require 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night for optimal functioning. This is consistent with what I observe in my clinical practice. Teens who are sleep-deprived tend to be irritable, moody, and have difficulty with school performance and performance in general. I have been observing this link for approximately three decades. So, when you are setting your curfew, please make sure that this curfew lends itself to your teens’ getting a good night sleep.
You also state that your daughter is responsible. That is wonderful. Keep an eye on who her friends are because as we all know that even good kids are vulnerable to peer pressure. I hope that this is helpful and that you have a restful and lovely summer.