21 Strong Yet Smooth House Rules For Teenagers

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Parenting your teen can be a demanding task. One trick is to begin teaching them from home by setting certain house rules for teenagers. As a child progresses to their teenage, they begin developing their ideas and views. Hence, it is the sheer responsibility of parents to guide them on the right path. Teenage being the most tender age, you must ensure to educate the vital skills such as compassion, discipline, and other virtues of goodness in your child. But make sure not to constrain your child’s creativity and freedom while helping them evolve into responsible individuals. Reading this post could further allow you to explore the types of house rules to consider for your teen that could help them develop into better individuals.

In This Article

21 House Rules For Teens That You Cannot Ignore

Whether you have teenagers, preteens, or younger kids, good house rules enable children to use their newfound independence safely (1).

We have divided the list of rules into specific categories for ease of understanding and implementation.

Rules To Stay Safe

A teenager’s newfound independence could land them in trouble. Whether it is experimenting with alcohol, smoking, drugs, driving fast, going out at odd hours, or meeting new people, a teen can get carried away. But with these five rules, you can let your teenager experiment with his independence, but safely and responsibly (2) (3).

1. Impose road safety rules 

When teenagers earn their license, ensure they follow road safety rules

Image: Shutterstock

Your teenager would be enthusiastic about learning how to drive, but make sure they attain the permissible age as per your state laws before allowing them to drive cars or bikes.

Once they earn their license, establish certain rules regarding road safety, such as:

  • No exceeding the speed limits
  • No drinking and driving (if they are of the legal age)
  • No texting or talking on the phone while driving
  • Always wear a seatbelt or a helmet

In the US, nearly 10,000 people died in car crashes in 2016 because the drivers were under the influence of alcohol. Drunk driving is one of the biggest reasons for road accidents involving teenagers. So, do not hesitate to be strict while imposing these rules.

2. Look out for substance abuse 

Make sure that your teenager does not start consuming alcohol before the legal age. Once they attain the age, It is advised to discuss the ill effects of excess alcohol consumption.

You may not be able to restrict their alcohol consumption completely, but you can place certain rules to limit consumption until they learn self-control. Also, have rules like:

  • Consuming alcohol until they blackout is not allowed.
  • Make it a point to set a limit on the number of times they can enjoy a drink.
  • A strict watch should be kept on them to check if they are experimenting with drugs. According to the US National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, 50% of teens in the US have abused a drug at least once. Since drug abuse among teenagers isn’t uncommon, having strict rules regulating their use are essential.

Also, make it a point to set a limit on the number of times they can enjoy a drink.

3. Set a time limit 

If allowed, teenagers might prefer to return home late in the night, but this is not good for their health and safety.

  • Set a reasonable time limit by when they must come back home.
  • If your child follows the deadline, you may allow some extra hours on special occasions.
  • Set a fixed bedtime for your teens for school days and holidays.

They may not like these rules, but ensuring that they go to bed at a particular time every day, brings in discipline. Explain why you are imposing this rule so that they do not rebel.

4. House party rules

Inviting friends over for a party is something your teenager might love doing, but here too, you need to have some rules and boundaries.

  • Your child should not arrange for a party without adult supervision.
  • They need to ask your permission before organizing such an event.
  • If you agreed for the party, make sure your child would be responsible for any absurd events, if they might occur.

In case your child is argumentative, explain to them the serious implications of irresponsible behavior.

5. Going out? Give prior information 

This is a tricky rule to impose if you have a strong-willed teenager, as they may feel grown-up and want to make their own decisions. While they should have the freedom to choose what is right for them, you must set a few rules initially and guide them to ensure their safety.

  • If they are planning an outing with friends, they need to inform you.
  • For any reason, if they are running late, they would need to call you and inform their whereabouts.
  • If they are planning a trip out of town, they need to inform you before and give you the full details.

Be careful while imposing these rules, as your teenager might take these as restrictions. Explain to them that being in discipline ensures their safety, and you would back off as soon as you gain confidence in their judgment.

Rules To Teach Ethics And Morality

Adolescents are at a vulnerable stage where they are trying to identify what is right and wrong. In the absence of proper guidance, their demarcation between good and bad might get blurred. Hence, the need for the rules discussed below:

6. Respect is essential

This is a golden rule that your teenager should follow.

  • They cannot disrespect parents or guardians.
  • They should also be polite and treat guests with respect.
protip_icon Quick tip
Model respectful behavior to your child from a young age. Children and teens are more likely to follow the rules when they see adults following them.

7. Acknowledge and respond

Teach them to acknowledge and respond to promote healthy conversations

Image: IStock

This rule will help promote healthy conversations between you and your child. This should not be put across as a rule, but you need to explain that whenever you are talking to them, they need to acknowledge it and respond, whether or not they agree with you.

This would help in promoting a healthy relationship with your teenager and understanding each other’s perspectives

8. No bullying, gossiping, and name-calling

There are signs of disrespect. Physical or verbal abuse, including pinching, kicking, screaming, or yelling at someone, is disrespectful.

  • Tell them to be polite and use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when they should.
  • Teach them how to put forth their point without sounding disrespectful

protip_icon Quick tip
Never use curse words at home, as these words can create a negative and disrespectful atmosphere. Besides, children may pick up on them and start using them to express their strong emotions.

People in the real world expect these basic courtesies. As a parent, it is your responsibility to teach your kids how to treat people with respect. Tell your teens that if they expect respect from others, they need to give respect to others.

9. Be honest

Integrity and trust in each other is important for any household.

  • Teach your kids to be honest.
  • Make it clear to your teens that lying is unacceptable.
  • They need to be truthful with you all the time, which also means that they should not omit any details or hide the truth from you.
  • Teach them to be honest, always. If they make a promise, they must keep it.

Honesty is a trait your young adult will develop by observing. So, make sure that you and your spouse are good examples for your teen to follow.

10. Ask before you borrow

  • Be it a friend, family member, or a neighbor, teach your children to ask before borrowing or taking anything from anyone.
  • Explain that when they don’t ask, it could be perceived as stealing, which is wrong.
  • And if they borrow something, make it a rule that they would need to return it.

11. Knock before you enter

  • Always knock before entering someone’s bedroom.
  • Children should always wait for a response before entering the parent’s bedroom or a sibling’s room.
  • Parents can knock and enter, and they do not need to wait for a response.

No peeping into a room: respect others’ privacy, no matter how close you are to them.

Rules To Build Healthy Habits

Rules are perhaps the practical tools to help children develop healthy personal habits. Here are a few rules which might help in building healthy habits in your children.

12. Do your homework

Being regular to school and completing the homework in time is important to secure good grades. Usually, children tend to get distracted from doing homework and may end up spending too much time and get bored with it eventually. So, setting a few rules around that task can resolve this issue.

  • They need to complete their homework before they can watch TV or go out with friends.
  • Sit with them and help them with their homework if necessary.
  • Tell them to set a time before which they need to finish their homework.

13. Use of gadgets

Digital devices are necessary but could be addictive too. Having rules in place can help prevent your child from getting addicted to a cell phone or a computer.

  • If your child wants a cell phone, they should be able to pay for it by themselves.
  • Make them understand that there must be a disciplined way of using cell phones
  • Children should not use cell phones at the dinner table, or when someone is talking to them.
  • They cannot use the phone after a set time during the night.
  • Also, impose rules on social media posts and online relationships.

This will encourage them to save and earn the privilege of using the device. Also, here are a couple of examples of such house rules for teenagers:

Have similar rules for the use of a computer.

  • Set a particular time for using technologies such as computers, tablets, or laptops to limit screen time.
  • Restrict access to websites that are inappropriate for their age.
  • Give them the laptop only after they have finished their homework.

14. Rules for TV, video games and movies

Have rules in place for:

  • When your child can watch TV, go to a movie or play video games.
  • Have rules on the kind of films, games, or channels they can access.
  • Limit the time they spend playing games or watching TV for an hour every day.

Rules That Build Life Skills

Your teenager will soon go to college, which means they have to live all by himself, do things on their own, and find ways to solve problems. You cannot handhold your kids all their lives. What you can do is prepare them for life. These are a few house rules for teenagers that can help them develop skills they need to survive in the real world.

15. Doing chores

Encourage children to do chores, house rules for teenagers

Image: IStock

Chores are for everyone, and they need to be completed on time. That should be the general rule in the house.

Alexander Alvarado, PsyD, a New York-based licensed clinical psychologist, says, “Tasks that require discipline, time management, and regularity are very important because these traits are translated into a healthy adult lifestyle. Discuss with them the chores they can help with or a weekly commitment to a job, hobby, or volunteership.”

  • Give your teens a few things that they need to do every day.
  • It could be something as simple as taking out the garbage, walking the dog, cleaning the table after dinner, or doing the dishes or laundry on certain days.
  • There is no excuse for not doing the chores (unless they are sick or not at home).
  • They cannot leave their bags, shoes, or clothes all around the house.

Remember that the idea of getting your children to help you with the chores is to teach them basic household management skills. So, on days when they have a lot of homework or during exams, or when they have extracurricular activities, you can exempt them from doing the chores. But not always.

16. Being Clean

Cleanliness and hygiene should be taught from childhood. Set these rules that teach them to be clean.

  • Your teens must clean up their room every day.
  • Make their bed every morning, put clothes for laundry in the basket, and not on the floor.
  • Clean up their closets and bathrooms too.
  • If they take the milk carton out from the fridge, they need to put it back after using it.

These rules make it easier for them when they have to share space with a friend, a roommate, girlfriend, boyfriend, or spouse.

17. Taking responsibility

Before your teen takes any decision, explain the consequences, and ask them if they are prepared to handle all that.

  • Tell your teens that they need to own up their actions and accept the consequences.
  • There should be no complaining, whining, crying, pouting, or arguing with you.
  • Blaming others for their deeds, trying to escape the consequences by screaming, crying, and making others feel bad is manipulation, which is not a good trait.
  • Make it clear that you are there for them but would not clean the mess they make; it’s their responsibility.

Rules For A Healthy Social Life

Teenagers typically have an active social life. They like to spend more time with their friends than with you. Adolescence is also the time when boys and girls start dating. Allow them to explore the social scene but have some rules until they learn self-discipline.

18. Going on a date has some rules

Set rules that give your teen some freedom to mingle with the other gender, else they will hide their relationships with you, which is not healthy. Explain the difference between infatuation and love, talk about harmless flirting, and rules about socializing with the opposite sex.

If your teen is nearing adulthood, talk about safe sex practices. Also, voice your concern about your teenage daughter’s safety and talk about issues like date rape and date drugs. Establish certain dating rules for teenagers:

  • Dating is allowed only when they reach a certain age, say 16 years.
  • They should be back home by a certain time when they go out on a date.
  • They need to inform you where they are going on a date.
  • Physical contact, such as holding hands, kissing, and sex is not allowed until they reach a certain age.
  • Have a list of places they can go to and cannot go to.

Your children may not agree with these rules at home, but make it clear that you are an adult who has been through that stage in life, and therefore know more than them. Make them abide by the rules.

19. Friendship rules

You may not like your teen’s choices when it comes to friends. But you cannot choose your teen’s friends. Thankfully, you can influence their choice by guidance. You can also have rules on the amount of time your teenager would spend with their friends. But take care that you do not sound controlling.

  • Observe who your child spends time with.
  • Make it a point that your child introduces their friends to you.
  • Keep a check on your child’s activities while with friends.
  • You can also teach them how to deal with break-ups from their friends and how to handle bullying.

20. No yelling

Learning how to regulate emotions is critical for your child. Managing emotions is not the suppression of feelings or hiding them. It is about creating emotional health by expressing them without violence or aggression. Teenagers are emotionally vulnerable and need guidance on how to manage their overwhelming feelings.

  • Have rules in place that help them manage emotions such as anger, jealousy, and fear.
  • Have a rule that if they are angry, they can take a five-minute break and talk about it later.
  • Shouting or screaming, throwing things, hurling abuses, or anything else that can hurt others is not acceptable.
  • When your teenager is out of control, give them time off, and firmly tell them you are ready to discuss only when they calm down.

The idea is to teach them that it is okay to go through negative emotions such as jealousy or anger. But it is important to express it healthily, not to harm themselves or others.

21. Always there for you

Another important family rule for teenagers is to talk if something is bothering them. These rules are both for you as well as your teenager.

  • Tell your kids to talk to you. Most importantly, make them comfortable talking to you.
  • Be their friend and listen to them without judging them. Only then will the rule of honest communication be effective.
  • Do not interrupt when someone is speaking. You speak when it is your turn to do so.
  • Listen to the other person with an open mind. Don’t judge them or determine if they are guilty or not without hearing them out.
  • Try to understand the other person’s point of view, be empathetic.

By having these rules, you can teach your kids how to communicate without offending another person, a skill we all need for successful relationships.

Setting rules is your job, and you do it perfectly. But will your teens do their job of following the rules? Teach them the importance of these rules, and they might follow them.

Importance Of Rules And Consequences

Rules help set clear expectations and discipline teenagers

Image: Shutterstock

Children long for freedom and independence in their teenage years. Unlike matured adults, teenagers need guidance to stay on their path and not stray into dangerous territories. More importantly, they need to master the art of self-discipline, which can be achieved with rules that set clear expectations and consequences.

Dr. Angela Kenzslowe, PsyD, MBA, a psychologist, consultant, and speaker, says, “It is important to keep a check on teenagers because their brains are still developing, which means they may not be able to make good decisions or fully understand the consequences of their actions.”

“Teenagers are more likely to engage in risky behaviors (such as drinking, drugs, and sex) than those who are older, so it is important for parents to be aware of what their children are doing and who they are hanging out with.”

That said, setting and enforcing rules is not a cakewalk. Nevertheless, parents should have a list of house rules for teenagers to develop positive personal traits and values. Every family should have:

  • General house rules, which apply to the entire family. These reflect your values and help you determine what is acceptable behavior and what is not. For example, treating others with respect is a house rule that every member of the family should follow.
  • Teenager house rules, which your adolescent must follow. These rules are in addition to the general house rules and aim at helping your vulnerable teen build character and lay the foundation for a successful professional and personal life.
  • Consequences, if the teenager breaks the rules. Unlike the popular adage, rules are not meant to be broken. If anyone in the house breaks a rule, then they must face the consequences. The consequences should be fair and impact only the person who has broken the rules.
  • Most importantly, discuss the rules and the consequences with your children before you enforce them. That way, your kids will know what to expect when they defy the rules. Remember that the discussion is only to inform them, not adjust the rules to suit them.

Rules do not pertain to just discipline. They are also for the teenager’s safety and personal development.

protip_icon Point to consider
Consider reviewing rules with your teen at set intervals to check if they are working. It will also help modify rules to help teens adjust to them amicably.

7 Tips To Enforce Rules Of The House For Teenagers

7 Tips To Enforce Rules Of The House For Teenagers

Image: Shutterstock

Alvarado suggests, “Reinforcement can take you to the next level. Encouraging the right behavior at the right time and associating the right behaviors with it can be a game changer. Offer them things that internally motivate the child. Compliment their traits and abilities. If you have to give incentives, let them know it is for their traits (honesty, regularity, etc.).”

Enforcing house rules on teenagers is no easy task. Adolescents think that they do not need their parents’ help. The fact is that they need guidance and discipline. Here are some tips that can help you establish house rules:

  1. Discuss the rules and consequences with your kids. The agenda should be to bring clarity about what behaviors are acceptable and what are not.
  1. Be fair and practical when setting up consequences – your children should not feel like they are being singled out or being targeted.
  1. The consequence should be relevant to the rule that is being broken. Both parents should be on the same page and should not give an impression that one of the parents is easy to manipulate.
  1. Be consistent with the rules and the consequences. If a rule is broken, they must face the consequences. No excuses.
  1. Be open to discussion, but do not get into explaining yourself.
  1. Be open-minded and listen to them as long as they are not shouting or hurling abuses. That does not mean you should give in to their demands. Understand their feelings and empathize but make it clear that rules are rules.
  1. If you have a difficult teenager who keeps arguing about the consequences of breaking the rules, you may want to draw up a house rules contract. Make them read it, understand the consequences, and get them to sign it. That way, they will not be able to argue with you.

protip_icon Did you know?
Praising and rewarding good actions is equally important as giving your children and teenagers consequences when breaking the rule.

Your children may not understand the need for all these rules. They may even hate you for it. But you love them. Otherwise, you would not go through the trouble of coming up with a list of home rules for your teenagers.

Disciplining a teen is essential to guide them to use their newfound independence judiciously. Hence, you should not deter from setting clear and mutually decided house rules for teenagers. While you set rules in place, guide your child to follow them right. Show them how these rules are beneficial for them and lead by example. If the teenager doesn’t adhere to these rules, tell them about the consequences they will have to face. Be consistent in enforcing rules but don’t make them too stringent as else the teenager may become rebellious.

Infographic: Tips To Enforce Rules Of The House For Teenagers

As a parent, setting clear rules and boundaries for your teenagers is essential as it helps keep them safe and responsible and maintains order and harmony. However, enforcing rules can sometimes be challenging, especially with teenagers who may push back against authority. Here are some tips to help you implement rules for your teen.

how to implement rules for your teen effectively (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are some consequences for breaking house rules for teenagers?

You may use consequences to discipline your teen from breaking house rules. They could be withdrawing their privileges of playing computer games, visiting a friend’s house, and accessing activities for a day or doing household chores (1) (5).

2. At what age should teenagers have more freedom and responsibility in the household?

There is no particular age to allow freedom and teach responsibility to children. They may be gradually incorporated throughout the teenage years. Parents may help teach teens to balance freedom and responsibility. Such obligations may include knowing the possible consequences of their actions, not blaming others for their fault, acting with discipline, fulfilling duties, and keeping promises (6).

3. How can parents handle conflicts that arise when enforcing house rules for teenagers?

Parents may manage conflicts by staying calm, actively listening to their child’s perspective, and making them understand the importance of house rules. They should explain their concern about their child’s well-being and negotiate some decisions without being harsh. Parents must manage their emotions and act as role models for their children (7).

Key Pointers

  • Enforce road safety regulations, e.g., no drunk driving, obeying speed limits, seatbelt/helmet use.
  • Monitor substance abuse and alcohol/drug intake, and set curfews for returning home.
  • Promote regular performance of household tasks to develop discipline, time management, and responsibility.
  • Discourage teenage complaining, shirking responsibility, and placing blame on others.
  • Establish guidelines for dating/friendship, including age, timing, location, and physical contact.
  • Educate teenagers on emotional regulation, behavior, and coping mechanisms.
house rules for teenagers_illustration

Image: Dall·E/MomJunction Design Team


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. How do I set house rules for my teenager?.
  2. Must-have safety rules at home for your family.
  3. Setting rules with teens.
  4. Why Is Your Child Swearing and How Should You Discipline Them?
  5. Discipline strategies for pre-teens and teenagers.
  6. Helping teens learn independence and responsibility – part 1.
  7. Conflict management with pre-teens and teenagers.
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Dr. Sadhvi Mythili

Dr. Sadhvi MythiliMBBS, Psychiatrist

With a passion for reading and understanding about the human mind and how it functions, Dr Sadhvi Mythili took up Psychiatry after completing her graduation in Medicine from Kakatiya Medical College, Telangana. She pursued post graduation from the prestigious Asha Hospital. With over five years of experience in Psychiatry (adult and child), Dr. Mythili is currently working with Apollo Clinic...read full bio