There are all kinds of pros and cons when it comes to using grounding as a form of discipline. Some parents find grounding effective; others do not. If parents use grounding, they must recognize that they're not only grounding their child but also themselves. After all, someone has to be around to make sure the child does not run off and ignore the grounding. Parents hope the ultimate payoff is that their child will be more obedient as a result of being grounded. Here are some ways to ensure children and parents benefit from this form of discipline.
Here’s what you do.
Step 1: Keep calm. If you yell while issuing the punishment, you’ll be on the losing end. Kids — even naughty kids — need your respect. Following your example is how they learn to give respect to others in difficult situations. Life is full of difficult situations, so the sooner children learn this concept, the happier and more successful they’ll be.
Step 2: Calmly and clearly explain what’s going to happen as a result of the child's disobedience. For example, “I’m sad you chose to take the car without permission. You are now grounded from using the car for three weeks. If you treat me with respect during this time, your privilege to use the car will be restored.”
Step 3: Allow your child to lessen the length of his grounding by earning points to work off time. Make a list of chores with corresponding points. When the jobs are done, tally up the points. When the designated number of points is reached, your child is no longer grounded. For example, you may decide that your child must earn 500 points to get "ungrounded." Here is a great example list from the blog, The Life of Dad: Do one load of laundry (wash, dry, fold and put away) = 100 pointsTake out garbage and re-bag = 10 pointsWrite a nice letter to someone in the family = 10 pointsPrepare and cook dinner = 50 pointsWash windows in living room and kitchen = 50 pointsClean toilets = 50 pointsSweep and mop the kitchen floor = 25 points
Step 4: Praise your child after the completion of each job, making sure each chore is done well. You will enjoy the benefits of your child's work, and he, in turn, will learn the value of work — the reward of good feelings.
Step 5: Periodically hold a family council meeting where these steps are explained to your children. They will be less likely to be disobedient, but some will still test the waters to see if you really mean business. Following through is everything. You must really mean it. With consistency, this method has the power needed to help children make wiser choices. It can bring about more peaceful family relationships.
Alternative to grounding
There is another philosophy that has proven successful for some parents. It’s called “ordeal therapy.” This method seems to be effective when other forms of discipline have failed.
Here’s how it works. If your child is disobedient, choose a consequence that is uncomfortable but has a good outcome. For instance, have your child clean the kitchen floor using a pail of soapy water, a pail of clean water, two cleaning rags and a little elbow grease. She may say, “I’ll use the Swiffer mop instead.” You calmly reply, “Not an option. It is to be done on your hands and knees with the rags and the cleaning solution.
And do it now.” Ignore any grumbling that may ensue as she works away at doing the job.
The uncomfortable part is scrubbing on her knees. The good outcome is the clean kitchen floor. When the task is finished, you thank her for the clean floor and a job well done without mentioning again the reason for the consequence. She won’t need to be reminded. The uncomfortable chore has made it perfectly clear. This same thing can be done by cleaning out the family car, the garage or any other difficult or unpleasant job. One therapist suggested that this be done at an odd hour that is inconvenient to the child, like 6:30am. This adds to making it an unpleasant ordeal.
These suggestions are to help parents create responsible children who learn that disobedience comes with a price. Ultimately, this not only creates happier kids, but it helps kids grow into contributing citizens who know it doesn’t pay to break the law.
See Gary and Joy Lundberg's new .99 e-book “Wake-Up Call: What Every Husband Needs to Know”, on amazon.com.
Gary Lundberg is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Joy is a writer. Together they author books on relationships. See their new .99 e-book "Wake-Up Call: What Every Husband Needs to Know" on amazon.com. Their website is garyjoylundberg.com.