The Teenager and the Battle at Bedtime

The Teenager and the Battle at Bedtime

If you thought getting toddlers to go to bed was tricky, you want to try a teenager for size. Let me tell you a story about the teenager and the battle at bedtime.

Bedtime battles are a daily occurrence in the house and I am now so tired, I am starting to wonder if the sleep deprivation you have when your children are babies is somehow a test for what is to come years later.

The teen is nearly 14. It is interesting that he no longer refers to himself as 13, evidently being nearly 14 gives him more weight in his many arguments with his parents.

We are so unfair. This has been said over and over. We are the only parents who make their child go to bed at a reasonable time (or at least we think it is reasonable). We are the only parents who don’t let our child take their phone to bed. It is so unfair (if you repeat the last phrase in the manner of a whingeing teenager, you get the general idea.)

Bedtime for the teen on a weeknight is between 10 and 10:30. Personally, I think that is fine for a 13 year old. Actually, if I’m honest, I think it is too late but that is the current bedtime. We do let him stay up a bit later on weekends and during the holidays.

Bedtime means saying goodbye to the the little people in his phone and off he goes to bed.

I wish.

We have endless moaning, sighing, claims of unfair treatment. When we finally extract the phone quite literally from his sweaty hands, he starts to behave like a two year old with stomping, snarling and general unpleasantness. It isn’t pretty.

It seems to be getting worse.

Last night, I heard myself saying one of those awful ‘parenting’ phrases that I am quite certain that my mum said to me; “if you want to be treated like an adult, start acting like one.”

Argh!  As soon as it came out of my mouth, I wished I could push it back in and take it back.

Still, I suppose that the age-old phrase is right.

Teenage years are tough.  I do vaguely remember and I know that he is going through so many physical and emotional changes which must be exhausting.

Also, he is a person who, like his mother, needs lots and lots of sleep.  Without it, he is cranky.  But of course, even if he quite literally yawning ever two minutes, he is NOT TIRED.

So I am standing my ground in the battle of the bedtime for now.  I think he needs the sleep, he has a longer school day, he walks to school and back every day and with all of the other changes, I genuinely think he does need more sleep than ever, even if he doesn’t agree.

As for the phone, I would quite happily take his phone and stamp up and down on it until it is in thousands of tiny pieces. Harsh maybe, but SnapChat has become my arch nemesis. There are always ‘streaks’ to be finished and a hundred more selfies to be taken.  Oh and then, of course, you have to say goodnight to everyone.  Bring back The Waltons, life was far simpler then.

Am I being unreasonable not letting him take it to bed?  I would be genuinely interested to know what other parents do.  My worry is that it will continue to beep and whir until the early hours as it does seem that many of his friends do keep chatting way beyond 11 pm.

But for now the battle lines are firmly drawn and I am not wavering, but I am really tired as quite frankly, I would rather be asleep at 11 pm each evening than arguing with my teenage son.

What do you think?

the Teenager and the Battle at BedtimePhoto by Marjan Grabowski on Unsplash






  1. December 7, 2017 / 10:28 am

    My girl is 15 and goes upstairs at 9pm and has to be going to sleep for 10.30pm. I don’t allow phones or tablets upstairs and we’ve always had that rule. I know if my teen took her phone to bed she would not go to sleep till goodness knows when….
    I think you are being fair. x

  2. December 7, 2017 / 5:22 pm

    I think you’re being perfectly reasonable! My 14yo son has a 9.30pm shut down time for his devices Sunday to Thursday. I’ll admit he occasionally breaches it, but he’s not too bad. He’s not allowed to take his phone to bed and has never wanted to, but it does stay in his room on charge. My eldest takes his though and I do disagree with it because he will sometimes be messaging at 1am! I think both my boys need more sleep – it’s a nightmare to get them to get up in the morning, but of course they’re never tired at 11pm!

  3. Mrs nige
    December 7, 2017 / 6:38 pm

    I think you are being more than fair! You also need time as a couple without children around innthe evening and I actually found this the hardest part of thecteen years. Try this for a solution. During a calm time, ask him to join you and his Dad for a discussion about this. Tell him he is setting the parameters for his siblings who are gollowing him in his attitudes and negotiations. Get him to produce a list of his friends snd their honest bedtimes and who is allowed their phone at night. Then ask him which of yhese friends has the same amount of extra curricular sport and activity that he does. Probably not many, ask him to consider the known risks of phones in bedrooms, blue light, poor sleep, if charging at night then potential fire risk etc etc.
    I would also say to him that you would far rather that he unwound with a chat with you or a book or magazine than on his phone. Do you lead by exsmple? Are your phones left downstairs at night? Perhaps set up a new supper routine of a drink, snack and chat before bed?
    Good luck, it isnt easy, and this is only the start of the battles.

  4. December 13, 2017 / 9:39 am

    Oh hun how unfair you are! 😉
    BP is 13 (14 in August) and he goes to bed at 9pm. This has been his bedtime for a while and only once has he mentioned it, but then he’s only been 13 for a little while – I expect this conversation is on the horizon for us. I don’t allow him to take his phone to bed, ever. Namely because he will play on his phone until the early hours and then wakes up tired and cranky and takes it out on us and his brother. We also found out a while ago that he surfs the internet and wracks up his data charges as a result – this is what prompted us to keep his phone downstairs when he’s in bed.
    I think a 10-10:30pm bedtime for a 13/14 year old is perfectly reasonable. I hope your battles end soon hun, although I’m sure if this one does there’ll be another around the corner. You have my sympathies.
    Let’s us parents of teens stick together – we need the support! 😉

  5. December 13, 2017 / 11:55 am

    We have a 9pm bedtime for both the boys 11 and 12 and I wish it was earlier TBH. I am not going to be pushing it back anytime soon. We also have a phones turned off at 7pm rule, which I can see them starting to push back on soon. No tech in bedrooms for any of us – the temptation to use them is far too high. So yes, I am the evil Mum, but you know what I am the parent and I pay for the phone

  6. December 26, 2017 / 7:55 am

    Honestly? I think you’re being completely reasonable and need to stand your ground here. My kids are 9, 11, 18 and 19 so I have ‘been there’ once and fast approaching it all over again. I was quite strict with my teens at the age your son is now (or at least they thought I was! Ha!) But when the time comes with my younger two, I’ll be just as strict again. I found 13-15 probably the trickiest of the teen years and I think you need to keep quite a tight reign that then sees you through the later teen years. None of us really know if we’re doing okay until you come through the other side but trust me, you’re doing just great x

    • Nikki Thomas
      December 26, 2017 / 10:31 am

      Thank you that is really good to know. It can feel like a constant battle at times but I am trying to stick to rules as it is important and even though he is a great kid, I know he would do whatever he could get away with if I let him. Hopefully it will get easier eventually ….

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