Do you put much thought into grounding your children?
“You’re grounded!” How many times did you hear that when you were growing up? How many times have you heard yourself say it? It’s the “old faithful” of disciplines, the one many parents automatically revert to when they face a behavioral problem with their kids and feel they have to respond immediately.
In order to effectively use this as a discipline tool, here are some guidelines to help you with your grounding game.
Small children who are put in a time out are basically being “grounded.” Their time-outs and groundings should be as many minutes as they are in years, up to age 6. After that, the groundings can get longer, slowly increasing to a few hours.
Define boundaries and consequences proactively.
Set your “house rules” or boundaries and clarify the consequences so that your child knows ahead of time what to expect when they do not cooperate. If grounding is the consequence, let them know how long it will be.
Start with a small grounding, say 15 minutes of their screen time. Then, if kids disregard the grounding, you can increase it in small increments. It’s easier to increase the grounding than it is to backtrack off a longer grounding. Long groundings tend to encourage kids to find ways to cheat or work around their discipline and they are harder on the parent who has to stay on top of enforcing it.
Communicate, communicate, communicate.
It’s important to tell your child the reasons for grounding and how they can avoid being grounded in the future. Your goal in any discipline situation is to help them learn from their mistake. For instance, when your child is caught in a lie, don’t just ground them; take the time to talk about how lying breaks people’s trust and how they must work to win that trust back.
Don’t let grounding be an automatic reaction.
If your child has done something to anger you, give yourself time to calm down and think through the situation. What do you want your child to learn from this and what is the best way for you to help them learn it? Your goal in any discipline is to TEACH them, not punish them. Unless you’ve already told them that they will be grounded in a certain situation, you should take the time to think through what is really the best say to handle the infraction.
Practice targeted grounding.
Instead of grounding them from everything, try focusing on some specific activities or privileges. For example, if you ground your child from every activity and they play sports, you will punish their team. Or if they go to church youth group, you are keeping them from something that is good for them.
You want the grounding to be unpleasant so they won’t want to disobey again, but don’t cut them off completely from their peer groups, family, sports and other important activities.
Don’t overdo the grounding.
Long groundings can actually do more harm than good. For the first minutes, hours or days of grounding, the youngster probably feels somewhat remorseful for what they did. However, if the grounding drags on, your child will get restless and resentment may start to grow.
Lift the grounding when your child goes to someone’s home.
It should not be up to the mom or dad of your child’s friend to enforce your grounding.
Remember, grounding can affect YOU.
When you ground your child, you may have to change your routine in order to enforce the discipline. It may require small sacrifices and inconveniences to you or your family. So, if grounding your son from having ice cream with the family means that one parent has to stay home and miss the family ice cream outing, then so be it.
If you’re not sure where to start with grounding, make up a list of activities that your child loves and that they would hate to miss. Try to think beyond just screen time. Remember too, that grounding is not the only effective discipline. Think about trying extra chores as a consequence for bad behavior. Whatever you choose, be sure your child is aware of the boundary and the consequence ahead of time. This will help keep you calm as you enforce the rules.
If you’d like help with parenting, please schedule a free call here.