Why Grounding Doesn’t Work
By: Jackie Ewing
Grounding is probably the most common form of punishment for kids and teens all around the world. No kid likes to be grounded, which is usually why most parents choose this form of discipline. Grounding your kids may seem like the right thing to do, but in reality most kids do not learn their lesson from the act of making them sit at home, bored all day, waiting for the time they can leave the house again. Parents seeking effective behavior management strategies should talk to their children about what they have done wrong in order to ensure that a lesson has been learned. Then, implement a positive reinforcement system where they could exchange good behaviors, such as household chores, in exchange for privileges.
Parents who ground their kids for weeks on end and expect them to not try anything sneaky to get out, are being unreasonable. When parents don’t allow children the freedom they deserve, they might do things covertly, and that is not something any parent wants. Of course children should be disciplined when they do something wrong, but the approach of grounding is one of the most ineffective ways to discipline. This can lead to worse behaviors, distrust, and dislike towards their parents. According to the Yale Parenting Center, “grounding doesn’t change a child’s heart, attitude or behavior.” Grounding doesn’t teach lessons, grounding doesn’t promote change, and grounding definitely doesn’t teach communication. So, why ground your teen when you can become closer with them, and discipline them in ways to promote change?
Here are some expert proven behavior management strategies for parents to improve their relationship with their teen.
- Remain calm in stressful situations with your teen
- Involve your child in working out limits and rules. When your child feels that you listen to them and they can contribute, they’ll be more likely to see you as fair and stick to the agreed rules.
- Be clear about the behavior you expect. It can help to check that your child has understood your expectations. For example, you could say, ‘Please come home after the movie’. But it might be clearer to say, ‘Come straight home after the movie ends and don’t go anywhere else’.
- Discuss responsibilities with your child. For example, ‘I’m responsible for providing for you. You have responsibilities too, like tidying your room’.
- Agree in advance with your child on what the consequences will be if they don’t stick to the rules you’ve agreed on.
- Use descriptive praise when your child follows through on agreed limits. For example, ‘Thanks for coming straight home from the movie’.
- Be willing to discuss and adjust rules as your child shows responsibility or gets older – for example, by extending your child’s curfew.