Just like time-out, grounding tends to get a bad-rap.  This is because many parents misuse it. 

  • Mom says, “You’re grounded for a week!” until she cools off and remembers some important event Billy Earl is already scheduled to attend, lets him go, and undermines her own authority.
  • “You’re grounded!” means Lilly Pearl stays in the house but she watches all her favorite TV shows , texts her friends until 2:30 each morning, and updates her Facebook status every few minutes.
  • “You’re grounded for another week!” and so on: Melody Marie ends up being grounded all winter and grounding is no longer of any benefit.
  • “You’re grounded for a month!” After a while, Billie Jean no longer connects the punishment with the crime.  Instead she feels resentful the grounding fails to alter her behavior.
  • “You’re grounded, but we’re going on vacation!” If parents, Betty Lou and Jimmy Ray, are not there to monitor what Thelma Liz is doing, she sneaks out with her boyfriend Buddy Lynn and undermines her parents’ authority.

Read the rest of this article to learn how to avoid these challenges and effectively ground your teen.

Effective grounding is brief and to the point as noted in these four points:

  • Grounding should be reserved for more difficult problem behaviors and when you have taken away so many points or privileges that you are at risk for no longer motivating your teen.
  • Grounding should be for a few hours up to 2 days maximum (a weekend).  Anything beyond 2 days is too difficult to manage.
  • Grounding involves withholding all forms of positive activity during the time period the teen is grounded.
  • Essentially, grounding means “house arrest.”

It is important to understand these points as well:

  • Any amount of time beyond 2 days maximum is too much and the teen will no longer remember why he or she is grounded.
  • The teen cannot  have access to anything the parent would define as a privilege.
  • The teen may have to do some type of manual labor like cleaning out the garage or mucking out the horse stalls.
  • The parent must be there to monitor the grounding so it may need to be delayed until they return from their trip to Neiman-Marcus to pick out Dr.Davenport’s Christmas gifts.
  • Once the grounding is over, the parent reminds the teen of the behaviors that will lead to grounding in the future but then goes on with the daily routine in a business-like fashion.

All in all, grounding works if it’s monitored and it’s not overworked.  Try it!

© 2011, Monte W. Davenport, Ph.D.