I have a 17-year old son who does not behave in the way that I as a parent would like. He has problems in two areas: he stays up/out too late and his effort in school is poor at times.
On the first issue, I caught him sneak out with our car once at about 3 am and two other instances that were not as late and when he was not driving. However, it should be noted that (at least he claims) he has never put himself into an unsafe situation during these times and has never come home drunk or high even once. At the times he's sneaking out, he's normally going to get food with friends and never doing anything illegal except one time when he drove past the teen driving curfew. When he's at home on weekends, he also stays up very late for our liking. He claims that he's just trying to "stay up as late as his friends" (1-2 am Friday and Saturday nights) when we catch him on the computer at that hour.
In school, his standardized test scores are very high, but he's only in the top 30% of his high school class according to his college counselor. In two instances this year, he didn't turn in an assignment until a few weeks late seemingly out of laziness, although these instances are outliers.
To punish him, we have taken away his laptop, iPod, Xbox, and make him go to bed before 11 on weeknights and before 12 on weekends. We also constantly watch over him while he does his homework and check on him to make sure he is in his bed. He grows steadily more and more frustrated with our efforts daily and says we are too harsh and the restrictions are for more fit for a 7th grader than a junior in high school. Are these punishments appropriate or are they too harsh?
My god, Yes the sneaking out isn't the best, but, 30%, Does that really matter to you? It Just bothers me to hear that, Did you ever think that those stupid tests gave parents more ammo to fire at us? 2 instances with late homework, wow, That's just wow, Half of my friends never turned in anything. It's two late assignments, in a whole school year, Get over it. When I was 17, weekends were my time to do as i pleased, Monday through Thursday I had to be home by 8 and in bed by 10, It was horrible. When I moved out and went on my own I was terrified that my parents were gonna find me and take me home and ground me. I still always depending on what I'm doing get freaked out, and i am 21. I hate that feeling, I didn't talk to my parents for almost a year when I moved out.
One of the most painful and frustrating things for parents is watching their teens make choices they are not comfortable with. It sounds like your son is responsible for the most part, given that the instances you mentioned are outliers. It is normal for teenagers to want to be more independent and spend more time with their friends. It is also common for teens to want to stay up late. It might be helpful to give some thought to how he can earn staying out later with his friends. It doesn’t need to be all the time but maybe some weekend you allow him the opportunity to earn staying out a bit later and see how that goes. You may think about a behavior he needs to work on or what you need to see in order for him to earn that privilege and talk to him about it so you can negotiate a later curfew. Remember though, that ultimately there needs to be some kind of limit around this and you have the authority to decide what’s reasonable, safe, and what makes sense for your family.
When concerns about behavior do come up, I would suggest focusing on one behavior at a time, beginning with the behavior that is most concerning to you. I would also suggest not “lumping” consequences for one behavior, but rather, stick to one consequence for no longer than 3 days at a time. For instance, if he sneaks out, he doesn’t get to go out for up to 3 days. The reason why I suggest focusing on one behavior at a time and keeping consequences no longer than 3 days is to keep your son motivated to change his behavior. Right now it sounds like he is getting overwhelmed with the restrictions, and may be starting to shut down. If that happens, he is likely to give up and not follow the rules at all.
As for his homework, you can require that he do it during a regularly scheduled time away from distractions in an area where you can keep an eye on him but just check in now and then. You can tell him that this can be temporary as long as he is able to keep his grades up for a specific period of time, and hands in his assignments regularly.
I think rewarding is better than giving punishment, based on my perspective & experience giving them reward when they do something good will help them to behave better rather than imposing punishment... For example you will reward him if he get good grades in school or reward him with something he like if he disciplined himself. By giving that reward he will be encouraged to do good because he is looking up for something than he can get by doing good. But don't give him too much, anything too much is bad, just balance the reward system.