How to Effectively Ground a Child or Teenager

Grounding, or removal of liberty, is a commonly-used form of punishment. I'm all for grounding, if done properly. Here's how to effectively ground a child or teen.

* Long groundings are hard to follow through with. Kids are involved in many activities: sports, arts, community and church events, work, school functions. Parents must constantly decide which are included in the grounding. It's also hard because grounding kids is grounding parents. For young kids it might be okay, But with teens, its harder. You have to stay home and "babysit" them. Say you take away the driver's license. You've just shot yourself in the foot. Now YOU need to provide transportation to work, school and events not included in the grounding.

* There's also a point at which grounding (any punishment) has the reverse effect from the desired correction. I call it 'the point of saturation'. For the first few days of grounding, the child may feel remorse for behavior. Whether they admit it or not, kids get why they were grounded, if it was appropriate to the crime. Then kids begin get restless. Resentment sets in. What was initially effective, corrective discipline backfires.

* Age appropriate grounding is vital. Little children put in 'time out' are in effect grounded. At this age, timeout should be timed in minutes. Timeout/ grounding rule of thumb: the older the child the longer the time, up to a certain point. Children under 6 should get two minutes per year (roughly). Ages of six to ten, ground children to yard or house for a few hours to a day.

*  Children should not be grounded from: school field trips, visiting relatives, special interest group activities, sports practices, boy scout camping trips, youth group functions, arts performances. Never withhold meals or other necessities.

* Family outings are case by case. They might be grounded from a special outing with Grandma and Grampa, but I don't advocate it. Find something else to withhold. Grandparents might have a hard time following through. If they don't, you end up the bad guy all around. Also lift the grounding when visiting. It can cause tension and awkwardness that will only have an adverse affect on the desired outcome of the punishment. But family should respect your rules. Everyone has to be on the same page for a grounding to work.

* Only on the rarest occasions should children be grounded from playing with specific children. Only do this if they persistently get in trouble together or if threatens or hurts your child.

* Ground tweens and teens under 16 from specific things and only for a few days. Good things to ground from are: junk food, candy, television, computer, video games, Playstation (Wii, Xbox etc.), iPod, cellphone, internet, party, going to a friend's house, sleepover.

Grounding should be remove privileges not administer harm. For more parenting helps, visit me at and and

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Freelance writer, Top 100 Yahoo! Voices, Yahoo! News, Shine, Michigan, Detroit), blogger, teacher, mom of 4, happily married 25 years. Graduated GVSU 1986, psychology/general education and special education. continuing ed up to present. Certified MI teacher. Writing Michigan history mystery, children's Gothic fantasy. Areas of expertise: education, relationships, mental health, nutrition, history, world cultures. Passions: faith, Catholic church, sustainable living, interfaith initiatives, living simply that others might simply live. Working on MA in EI education.