Grounding teenagers does not work

We take a strong stance on grounding teenagers.

On behalf of all our teens in our programs – parents- please stop grounding them! You don’t have to do it. Discipline can still work great without it.

Grounding simply doesn’t make sense to teens. They don’t get it. It feels like senseless torture and often ends up deteriorating the relationship you have with them without creating the desired results.

From a teenager’s perspective, grounding is extremely confusing. They don’t see grounding modeled anywhere else in life. Adults don’t ground each other. If you argue with your spouse, you can’t ground your spouse. Why is that? Your spouse would never agree to be grounded. They would push back against that. In fact, asking your spouse to submit would be seen as extremely patronizing and inappropriate.

Parents who use grounding effectively often already have a great relationship with their teens. In those relationships, the teen will likely do anything for the parent, so they put up with the grounding. It doesn’t work for parents who are trying to control or overpower their teens.

Try to save grounding as a once-per-child, per-lifetime thing. Soon, they realize they can not listen to you, and there’s nothing you can do about it – and grounding sets them up for more sneaking out and even greater pushback. Save grounding for the worst thing they can do – and use it sparingly.

So what does work?

Instead of resorting to grounding as a primary disciplinary measure, consider adopting more effective and empathetic approaches to guide your teenagers. First and foremost, communication is key. Engage in open and non-judgmental conversations with your teens to understand their perspectives and concerns. Building trust and maintaining a strong parent-teen relationship lays the foundation for effective discipline. Set clear and reasonable boundaries, involving your teens in discussions about rules and consequences. By involving them in the decision-making process, you empower them to take responsibility for their actions.

Positive reinforcement is another powerful tool. Acknowledging and rewarding good behavior can motivate your teenagers to make better choices. Often, when teens are repeatedly grounded, they have a feeling like “I can’t do anything right.” or “Even if I try, it doesn’t matter; I’ll keep messing up.” Positive reinforcement gives teens the courage and motivation to keep going.

An effective way to promote responsible behavior in teenagers is to involve them in the process of setting household rules and boundaries. Rather than dictating rules from above, engage your teens in discussions about what rules are necessary and why they are essential. This collaborative approach not only empowers teenagers to have a say in the rules that govern their lives but also fosters a sense of responsibility. When teens have a hand in shaping the rules, they are more likely to understand and respect them. Moreover, this involvement opens up lines of communication and encourages teens to take ownership of their actions, making discipline more effective and less adversarial.

What if I need more help?

As we’ve highlighted in this article, effective communication, positive reinforcement, and involving them in setting rules can be more impactful in helping teenagers make responsible choices. Antelope Recovery recognizes the importance of a balanced approach to parenting and offers resources and support to assist you in nurturing a healthy and respectful parent-teen relationship. By focusing on constructive communication, we can empower teenagers to understand the consequences of their actions and ultimately help them develop into responsible, self-reliant adults.