Grounding your teenager can be effective, if you do it correctly.

What Is an Appropriate Time for a Teenager to Be Grounded For?

by Kathryn Hatter

When your teenager does something that violates house rules, grounding may be an effective form of discipline. While grounding usually gets a teen’s attention, make sure you wield this consequence wisely or it could lose effectiveness. Consider what would be an appropriate time to ground your teenager to ensure positive results.

Grounding Time Length

When you become angry and frustrated with your teen’s actions or behavior, it’s easy to overreact and issue an extreme grounding period that spans weeks or even an indefinite period of time. The most effective grounding period for teenagers involves days and not weeks, advises psychologist Carl Pickhardt on the Psychology Today website.

Problems with Extremes

Extreme grounding has associated problems. When you institute a long-term grounding with your adolescent, you miss the opportunity to use the discipline as a teaching tool, cautions social worker Carole Banks on the Empowering Parents website. Your teenager may simply get through the grounding period without learning any lessons about making better decisions. It’s also likely that the long-term grounding will incite resentment in your teen, which can make it difficult for him to learn lessons. Teens trapped in a long-term grounding also run the risk of losing social standing among peers, which could create additional hardships for your youngster.

Reasons to Extend Grounding

If your teenager does not cooperate with the grounding period, you might have a reason to extend the grounding, advises Kenneth Kaye, author of “Family Rules: Raising Responsible Children.” For example, if your teen defies the grounding and leaves the house to go out with friends, extend the grounding for a longer period. Use the same principle as with the initial grounding and keep the grounding extension reasonable, advises Kaye. Instead of doubling it, for example, you might add an extra day or two as a consequence for the violation. If your teen continues to violate the grounding, examine the way you enforce the grounding to prevent your child from violating it in the first place. Grounding extensions could cause a grounding period to become extreme, so it’s beneficial to prevent this situation from occurring.

Alternative Grounding Options

Instead of grounding your teenager by restricting her activities, you might try an alternative type of grounding. Create a list of special and unappealing chores to assign to your teen if she breaks rules, advises University of Michigan Assistant Professor Blake Lancaster. For example, if your teen breaks curfew, she might need to clean out the garage, rake the yard by herself or clean the bathroom from top to bottom. While your teen performs these special jobs, do not allow her to have other privileges such as cell phone or computer time. Once she completes the assigned chores correctly, she can gain back her privileges to end the grounding period. Using this method, your adolescent actually controls the length of the grounding period by the diligence she applies to completing the assigned work.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

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