Should Teenagers Be Able to Lock Their Bedroom Door?

The locked bedroom door. This singular piece of housing hardware can cause a great many fights within families. Quite often, the door-locking situation rears its ugly head when a child turns 12 or 13 years old. Suddenly, the door lock which has been on the door since they were 2, is now their favorite household appliance. And it can come as much of a surprise for an unsuspecting parent who suddenly finds a locked door where an open door used to be. The question for both teens and their parents, is should teenagers be able to lock their bedroom door in the first place?

This is a difficult question to answer. Many parents do not allow locked doors in their home because they immediately think that their child is participating in some sort of hazardous, illegal, or undesirable behavior simply because the door is locked.

In fact, parents can freak out at the locked door issue, making a mountain out of molehill by wondering what their child is doing in there that is so private that they feel the inclination to lock the door. Could it be drugs, indecent internet activity? And for teens, the door locking comes as a rite of passage into privacy, normally at an age when they feel defiantly pressured to somehow assert themselves as an individual. For the teen, it doesn’t always mean that they are engaged in some illicit behavior. It just means they want and are demanding a little privacy. Who knows, maybe they want to try on their clothes or watch themselves dance in the mirror.

Probably the best way to deal with this is to talk about it before it happens. In some households, no doors are ever closed or locked. These open door homes may not have a policy in place – but are just prone to openness. If the parents and kids don’t feel threatened and don’t feel that their privacy is invaded or compromised, doors will normally stay open. In other homes, doors are locked and shut every single night. There are millions of households where family members disappear to their own rooms upon coming home and stay there for the rest of the evening without communicating with one another.

As a parent, you should know which side of the issue you stand on. If you don’t want your child to lock his or her door, then you will at least have to get used to knocking on the door and being invited in before entering their room. Okay, so this is your child and your house – but empowering their sense of individuality and ensuring their privacy are very important parts of parenting well. A child shouldn’t be made to feel guilty because they want some privacy with their friends or while they are changing clothes. Truth is, everybody wants some privacy every once in a while. Sit down with your child and tell them that you will respect the closed-door policy, but that they shouldn’t lock the door.

Some parents are afraid of door locking because it doesn’t give them quick access to the room if something bad happens. What if the child got hurt, or didn’t respond? Plus, the door locking makes it easier for teens to do things that they are not supposed to be doing, such as sneaking out, drinking, or having members of the opposite sex in their room.

But before you go off the deep end about your child locking his or her door, you should wait and look for signs of a problem. Locking a bedroom door does not mean your child has crossed over to the dark side of life, and that they are suddenly some troubled teen. Rather than see a locked door as an indicator that there is a problem – look for other signs. Have they changed friends? Are they withdrawing emotionally? Have their grades dropped? Are they hiding things from you? Have they been in trouble lately?

The transition from a child to a teenager is not just rough for parents, but is so for teens as well. There is a generalized sense of teens pulling away from their parents as they grow up, which can be frightening for a parent. The locked door, may just be one way that they retain some sense of control over their own space. As long as you don’t suspect some devious activity going on behind the closed door, you should generally learn to not make a major deal out of it. If you are okay with a closed door, but not a locked one – explain your reasoning to your children so they understand.

Parenting teens is much like the ebb and flow of the tides. When you exhibit some negative behavior, you have to pull in as much as possible in order to keep things in balance. But, if you don’t see anything negative going on, you have to learn to let go and release. This lesson, is most often harder for the parents than for the teen – and comes with allowing certain things in your teen’s life, such as a locked door.

Since internet safety is on the minds of most parents today – one way to alleviate the worry that your child is involved in dangerous behavior online behind closed doors is to do the following. First, make sure that you have internet controls on all of your child’s computer, phones, and internet ready devices. And secondly, move the computer to another, more open and visible place in the home such as the living room or kitchen. This way, you continue to give them access to the internet, but force them to carry out their online business in a more public manner that enables you to keep an eye on them.

Additionally, as you transition to the changes of a closed/locked door household – make sure that your teen realizes it is a privilege. Not a right. If they somehow abuse the privilege, then as a parent you have every right to expect an open door policy – or remove the door altogether.

In the end, there are much worse things your teen could do then lock their door. While difficult to shoulder the feeling of being excluded from their life, it is essential for your teen to develop some sort of individuality.

Related posts

Giving Your Teenager a Car – Is it a Good Idea?


Violence in Teens – When Teenagers Rebel


What Are My Odds of Getting Pregnant – Advice for Teens

Stef Daniel


Not to be said December 21, 2016 at 11:09 AM

Hi I’m a kid and this article is right. Sometimes I lock my door because: getting dressed, telling secrets to my friend, dancing or singing, and playing. Sometimes kids just need to be alone so they don’t blow up at anyone and sometimes we lock the door so we can cry.

Not to be said December 21, 2016 at 11:12 AM

I’m a pre teen. I lock my door when: Im getting dressed, to tell my friend a secret, when talking on the phone, when dancing or singing, when I’m upset, or when my parents are fighting.

Michael Otero August 29, 2017 at 7:01 PM

I’m a 17 year old boy and I completely agree with this article. When my brother left for college, I was excited. I would be the only child with the second biggest room (behind my parents) in my house! The door also had a lock. My parents have recently been griping me about this issue and one day when I was not present, my parents removed my door handle completely. My advice for other parents: do not do this. I took that as a stab of bitterness, simply because I wasn’t there when this event happened. It is true, as a teenager I would like my privacy. When my parents took total control, it made me feel as if they didn’t care how I felt. I plan to speak with them accordingly after reading this article. I send my thank to the author, this piece was spot on through-and-through.

Francine October 9, 2017 at 6:09 PM

I don’t do anything ridiculous in my room, or anything bad, so I should have every right to lock my door. I also have loads of homework from school, and also not only that, I don’t like it when people open my door without closing it whenever they’re done talking to me. I ABSOLUTELY HATE IT WHEN THEY DON’T SHUT MY FREAKING DOOR. I need a lock for that matter, so I can get ultra privacy which I need, let them (my family) knock first, and tell me what they need, before I open the door, and be energized when i’m not socializing with anyone. I get my energy that way, when i’m alone, and unbothered. I can’t breathe when other people are in the room. I also can’t breathe when they (my family) are breathing down my neck about every house hold chore that needs to be done. Like GOSH OH SWEET BABY JESUS I GET IT I NEED TO DO ALL THE HOUSECHORES WHEN I GET HOME I HEAR IT ONE TIME AND I GET IT. UGH. I WANT TO RIP OUT ALL MY REAL HAIR ATM AND JUST GET A WEAVE. FML. AND ON TOP OF OF ALL THIS, I HAVE MUSICAL PRACTICE (FOR THE BROADWAY MUSICAL VERSION OF CINDERELLA) AT MY SCHOOL OFTEN, AND IT’S AFTERSCHOOL AFTER A LONG SCHOOL DAY. SO I NEED TO BREATHE IN MY ROOM, WITHOUT DISTRACTIONS ONCE I GET HOME. THATS WHY I VALUE MY DOOR LOCK SO MUCH. IT MEANS MY WHOLE LIFE TO ME. I LOVE IT WITH EVERY FIBER OF MY BEING.

Bella June 3, 2018 at 12:29 PM

Same same same same

Person June 21, 2018 at 5:30 PM

I know it’s like “close the door when you leave” and they do t even care its so annoying.

Iqra December 12, 2017 at 11:55 AM

I’m a parent and in many occasions found cannabis in my sons room. The room which was never locked but is now. He demands privacy….. so what do I do?

wes December 6, 2018 at 4:30 PM

its weed, as long as he is not doing anything else like drinking alot, smoking cigarretes or harder drugs and still doing good in schol, hes fine, though technically underage since weed in my state is treated like liquor.

Iqra December 12, 2017 at 12:30 PM

My son leaves the house locking his door behind. In my books not right, considering I find weed in there.

Daniel January 23, 2018 at 3:47 PM

I’m what you’d call a rebellious teen, but when I lock my door- I honestly just want some privacy. My parents already pull out the router everyday at 9:30 p.m. making it hard to have some leg room to do late-night homework especially with all the extra-curricular activities I participate in, they already regulate my diet with healthy crap that gives me nauseating stomachaches or headaches, they already keep a fixed location for my phone so they know where I am, they already buy educational books and tutors for me, they already destroyed all my social connections to withered states of snapping, so is locking a door for some privacy really too much? Or are my parents doing the total right thing by keeping a firm grip on my life in their own fantasy vision?

Not a fAkE person (Hopefully) January 25, 2018 at 9:26 PM

I’m a Preteen, and guess what? I lock the bathroom door when I’m taking a shower. For a simple reason, I do not want my mother to walk in on me taking a shower. She says that she’ll respect the fact that I have the door closed. But in reality she doesn’t! So, this night I was getting dressed in the bathroom after my shower, my Mother tried to turn the doorknob, and when she came to the realization that the door was locked she flipped a switch and started screaming at me. “OF COURSE IT’S LOCKED, OF COURSE WHY DON’T YOU LEAVE IT UNLOCKED!” I would just stand there hoping she doesn’t get mad enough to hit me. (Which she rarely does) Then I made up some stupid lie when I walked into my room I said, “You know mom, I only locked it when I started getting dresses.” In reality I kept it locked through my entire shower, Like damn, can’t a girl have a little privacy?!

SM Johnson February 19, 2018 at 10:45 PM

Discovered my kid’s friends store their alcohol, drugs, and drug paraphernalia in my kid’s room, in my house. The first time I found a stash, I warned that that if it happened again, I would remove the door. I also told young people visiting about our no alcohol/drug policy. I am responsible for illegal activity in my house. I am the parent. The door has now been removed and I will be looking for a counselor. I am also willing to negotiate the door’s return. My kid is the youngest of her peers, but in the end, I don’t care if the stuff is my child’s or held for a friend – it’s not legal and I don’t want it in my house.

Answer the question April 7, 2018 at 7:35 AM

How old is your child???

Was he dealing drugs???

How long has the door been gone???

Just How Things Are February 19, 2018 at 10:52 PM

One quick thing to mention: please be consistent with your rules and parenting. As an adult, I know how busy life commitments can be even without children, and I can’t begin to imagine how hectic things are with children in the picture. But cycling between authoritarian punishments and uninvolved parenting would be one of the worst methods. Children would begin to see their parents and life in general as unpredictable, and difficult to trust, and trust is one of the most important things about family, and close relationships in general. To build trust, get to known your children well, value their opinions, try to understand them without judging, praise their accomplishments, help them solve and move forward from problems and downfalls, and always let them know that you’ll love them no matter what.

I know all of this is lip-service considering I don’t have children of my own. But growing up with loving but flawed parents taught me a lot. My mom, battling Type II bipolar disorder for much of my late elementary to middle school days along with physical health problems that required surgeries, did her best with an authoritative style, but frequently slipped into authoritarian/uninvolved styles on her bad days or just days where she was too busy. Even now, I find trouble telling her about some things in my life. I love her and I know she did her best, but I still find it hard to be as close to her as some mother-daughters are. My dad, like many dads, listened to my mom and let her do most of the childrearing. He was a kind dad who loved me, but he was permissive to a fault. By the time I graduated high school, I had many problems, including eating and internet addictions.

In the end, most of the tips in my comment are things I wish my parents had done with me when I was young, and things I plan to do with any future kids I have. It’s a mixture of hindsight bias (I preferred my dad’s permissive parenting back when I was a teen) and biased opinions in general from not having children, but perhaps my outsider point of view has some value, as neither a teenager nor a parent.

Given that you are seeking this article for help, I know you are trying hard for your kids and want what’s best for them, so please try a little harder to understand them. For the adolescents reading this, please try seeing things from your parents’ POV as well. I wish all of you and your families well.

Just How Things Are February 19, 2018 at 10:53 PM

I’m an adult without any children, but young enough to remember being an adolescent.

My first reaction coming across this article was “if I ever have children, I’m not even going to let them get used to the concept of locked doors. A ‘door lock which has been on the door since they were 2’? Hah.”

However, I’m a big advocate for the “authoritative not authoritarian” style of parenting. And I still remember being a teen and moving to a new house, fighting with my parents while watching my dad replace the lock that came with my new room. (I took apart the lock on their door, one that was more complicated than the one my own, to the point where even my dad couldn’t piece it together since he didn’t see how it was taken apart. Of course, I had to put it all back together, and only got a grounding for my trouble.)

I was livid, angry enough to “run away” (i.e. hide in the park for a few hours). But I got over it. Humans can adapt, and not having a lock on the door doesn’t even register on the scale of bad conditions.

But I can’t understate the importance of giving your children independence and the feeling of control. Take a brief look into the etiology of any abnormal psychology textbook. Over-controlling parents and feeling like one has no control throughout early life is a common risk factor to many psychological disorders, including mood and anxiety disorders, and increases their likelihood of developing post-traumatic stress disorder following a major stressor or trauma.

That being said, permissive or uninvolved parenting is never the solution. That’s associated with a whole other slew of mental disorders, including many personality disorders. It’s also linked to aggressive, including risk-seeking, behavior, insecurity, and lower achievement.

So should teenagers be allowed to lock their doors? Suffice to say, it depends on the teen. My opinion is that having a lock on their door is a right all teens should have, so that they can find themselves and grow into the independent adults they will soon be. However, that point rests on the assumption that the teen does not take advantage of the lock, realizes their responsibilities, and will not be doing anything dangerous or illegal.

Some of these comments honestly terrify me. If you know your kid is doing something that is detrimental to their continued physical and mental health, of course you should do something about it. If your child has an addiction or exhibits addictive behaviors – be it substance use, internet/phone addictions (as in it takes up a substantial amount of their time, is affecting their grades, health, or personal and social relationships), gaming addictions, or whatever – a locked door will be doing no one any favors.

But here is the important thing: explain to your teen why their right to a lock is temporarily revoked and talk them through your point of view as a parent or guardian who only wants them to be healthy, happy, and safe. Let them know that you will reinstall the lock once they have shown you that they are able to keep up the responsibilities that come with the right.

All of this varies case by case, and perhaps for internet/social media/gaming addictions, removal of the door lock is not necessary. You can ask your child to do their homework somewhere you can keep an eye on them, and to finish their chores, and get some exercise before returning to their room. Call them out once in a while to help you with something, or for a evening walk, or other family activity to make sure they aren’t sitting in front of a screen all the time, and help them develop hobbies to replace their addiction (e.g. signing them up for sports, volunteering, a musical instrument, anything they are interested in.)

One quick thing to mention: please be consistent with your rules and parenting. As an adult, I know how busy life commitments can be even without children, and I can’t begin to imagine how hectic things are with children in the picture. But cycling between authoritarian punishments and uninvolved parenting would be one of the worst methods. Children would begin to see their parents and life in general as unpredictable, and difficult to trust, and trust is one of the most important things about family, and close relationships in general. To build trust, get to known your children well, value their opinions, try to understand them without judging, praise their accomplishments, help them solve and move forward from problems and downfalls, and always let them know that you’ll love them no matter what.

Jj-x April 3, 2018 at 2:50 PM


Answer the question April 7, 2018 at 7:32 AM

I just want to know:
I’ve lied to my mum (I’m Aussie) once with in a month and she took away my:PlayStation,tv and my door ⬅️
What do I do???

Greyson June 27, 2019 at 1:34 PM

As 15 year old who’s parents call me fat i lock my door when I’m changing or crying and my mom has the audacity to bang on my door and walk right in it’s a total violation of my rights to my body so I need help anyone have any ideas cause she claims she nocks and i was in the middle of changing when she got home and i feel violated just because she’s and i are both woman doesn’t change my right to not be seen nude i hate it and i meed help and fyi she didn’t leave cause “I’m the mother your the child and this is my house”

Ruby October 17, 2019 at 7:57 PM

I have severe anxiety, I feel like the door ALWAYS was to be locked. Even the slightest sound scares me. At school this doesn’t seem to happen. At home though, I am always constantly afraid of everything. My parents hate that I lock my door and yell at me for it. I am SUPER afraid of getting yelled at or doing anything wrong (having ADHD does NOT help that situation). Everyday, when I get home from school, I feel too tired to do anything even though I did nothing too physical at school. I am having a constant headache that never stops… ever. At home I feel too weak to do anything. I seem to have intensified emotions. I feel like it is too hard to do anything anymore… I don’t know what to do. My medicine won’t work, we even had a medicine change. Nothing is helping. Can anyone help me. At all? I can’t… it hurts

Chris Summers October 18, 2019 at 5:25 AM

My parents and their decision to not respect me and my sister’s privacy and continuation to meddle in both of our lives to a point where its convenient for them but a pain to us. has destroyed our familiy to the point where i wouldn’t shed a tear if my parents died in front of me. My sister is cutting ties with my mom and i plan on disowning my parents asap. people need to understand when it’s time to take a step back and respect others right to privacy. no “under my roof” bs. grow up and stop acting like immature little kids. i’ve volunteered at daycares and the 5 year olds behave better and are more mature than some adults (including my own parents).

RP February 10, 2020 at 7:25 PM

I have a 13 year old step son and a 16 acquired son. The 13 wants to lock his for when he goes to sleep at night but when I try to make sure he’s up for school in the morning it’s still locked so I have to beat on the door his a alarm will be going off, tv is still on from when he went to sleep usually his bedroom light is still on and when he hadn’t locked the door and I’ve went in to wake him up he has ear buds in that have noise canceling feature. ( Plus 13 unexcused absences in his first period class) I think door lock should be removed and so should gaming system and tv too. What is you opinion?

David Beart February 11, 2020 at 5:37 AM

I can tell that I too am very frustrated with how much my own son plays on his xbox

Aliza February 29, 2020 at 8:59 PM

I’m 17 and my parents always walk in on me and its so annoying like I cant even change without getting worried.For me having a lock is important because its the only way I feel like I have privacy.

Jay Davis April 8, 2020 at 5:36 PM

I just want the ability to lock my door if I want to. I probably wouldnt much and if I did it would be for normal privacy reasons or just needing alone time, yet my mom took my doorknob off because I locked my door. The only thing I disagree with in this is that a door should not be “a privilege”, but a right. Children need privacy and a sense of security, and if you think about not having your own door just because you want privacy, it’s not fair. Doors should not be removed as a punishment in ANY case.

Rose April 24, 2020 at 10:49 AM

I don’t even have a doorknob. I locked my door once after me and my parents got in a big fight. I didn’t want to talk and I didn’t want them to see me cry. So I ran upstairs, with the traditional door-slamming, and I locked it. I didn’t want my mother to come in to confront me about anything. I didn’t want my dad to waltz in asking me whether I knew what I had done. I just wanted a break from life; I wanted some alone time so I could figure out what to do. I wasn’t doing drugs or masturbating. I wasn’t sneaking anyone into my room or drinking alcohol. I just wanted to be alone. Was that too much to ask?

Isabella May 29, 2020 at 8:39 AM

I’m 15 and my parents took the lock of my bedroom for no reason at all. I feel like I have no privacy. Usually, when I lock my room It means I don’t want to be disturbed or I just want to be alone. My phone is always taken (for no reason as well) and my PlayStation 4 is in the living room, so I don’t understand why they’d take off my bedroom lock. There’s literally no reason to why they can be doing this. I don’t do drugs and i’m generally a good kid. I suspect that my parents are paranoid.

MDC October 25, 2020 at 7:02 PM

I am encouraged by these comments, from parents, children, and adult children. As a licensed professional counselor, this is a hot button issue with my adolescent clients & their families! I think the most important tips I got from this article were 1) parents, be consistent, and 2) if parents want to enforce a no locked doors policy, please be gracious and respectful and KNOCK ON THE DOOR! That will do a lot to establish trust with your child. In order to get respect or trust, you have to first give it, and just because they’re your kids doesn’t mean they are not deserving of your respect.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.