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You Caught Your Teen Sneaking Out. How Do You Handle It?

We know it could happen at some point, but we hope that it won’t. Teens are notorious for pushing boundaries and breaking the rules. So, it’s no surprise that a teenager would try to sneak out of the house. However, it might be a shock to catch YOUR teen sneaking out.

If they’ve been secretive about their behavior up until now, you could feel blindsided by this flagrant rule breaking. If they’ve been amping up their rebellious streak, though, maybe you’re not too surprised to finally catch them sneaking out. In either situation, you need to address their behavior and take steps to correct it as quickly as possible.

Parental intervention might not do the trick for teens who don’t care about the household rules and are determined to do whatever they want. Some parents in this situation send their kids to a military school or bootcamp for teens, but those schools don’t provide the best long-term outcomes. They offer a temporary fix for a much bigger problem.

Teens with zero regard for rules or boundaries may do well with a change in environment, but they also need to address the root issues. If your teen son’s behavior is out of control, consider a therapeutic boarding school. At Sundance Canyon Academy, our students have strict boundaries and accountability, but they also receive personalized therapy to address the larger issues.

What to do when you catch your teen sneaking out

If your teen’s behavior isn’t completely out of hand, but you’ve caught them sneaking out, you need to address it before their behavior escalates.

Talk to them about it

This might seem like an obvious first step but talk to your teen about the incident. Depending on when you caught them, how you caught them, and whether or not they were sober when you caught them, you might need to wait until the next day for this conversation. Though you should have this conversation as quickly as possible, you both need to be in the right headspace for it.

Remain calm

Remaining calm after catching your teen sneaking out is easier said than done. Though you may have gotten upset in the moment, make sure you stay calm during your follow-up conversation with them. If you come into the conversation already angry, they’re more likely to shut down. Then it will turn into a lecture rather than a conversation.

Explain why you are upset

You’re probably upset for several reasons. Your kid just blatantly broke the household rules. They didn’t care about how their actions could impact anyone else. They put themselves at risk by leaving the house without telling you. They may have been participating in dangerous activities while they were gone. They made you worry. Explain to your teen how their actions affected the rest of the household and why you are upset.

Give them a chance to talk as well

Depending on how much your teen is willing to participate in the conversation, it might end up being a bit one-sided. However, it would help if you gave your teen a chance to talk as well. They might want to apologize for their behavior. They might want to explain why they felt like they had to sneak out. By letting them talk, too, you get an opportunity to understand where they’re coming from and how to move forward.

Make your expectations clear

Make it clear that lying and sneaking around will not be tolerated in your household. If you already have rules and consequences in place for these behaviors, reiterate them. If you don’t already have those rules, create them and explain them to your teen. Make sure that your teen understands the household rules and the consequences of breaking those rules.

What should I do next?

After the conversation with your teen, it’s time to follow through with what you said. If you gave them any punishments for sneaking out, follow through with them. Uphold the household rules that you stated and enforce the consequences for breaking those rules.

If your teen is genuinely sorry for their behavior and wants to make it right with you, look for ways to help them rebuild trust. By sneaking out, they damaged the relationship and lost some trust with you. It might take a little while to get back to where you were, but you can get there if you work on it together.

If your teen doubles down on their sneakiness and is determined to do whatever they want, you have a bigger problem. A few next steps include:

  1. Have a conversation again. Even though it might feel futile, continue to reiterate how their actions affect the household and how they need to act.

  2. Follow through with consequences. This can be tough if your teen disregards the consequences, but follow through with everything you can.

  3. Get outside help. If your teen refuses to follow household rules and participates in dangerous or illegal activities, get outside help. Talk to your teen’s guidance counselor about what’s going on to see if they can help. Consider bringing your teen to a therapist to help address the behavior.

If you are worried that your teen son’s reckless behavior will get him in trouble, consider sending him to a therapeutic boarding school. By removing him from his usual environment, you take away some of the factors influencing his behavior. The school’s professional therapists will also work with him to address the root of his behavior and help him learn positive life skills.

Contact us today to find out if Sundance Canyon Academy could be suitable for your son.

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