Grounding (discipline technique)

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Grounding is a common discipline technique that is used with children and teenagers in which one is forbidden to leave their place of residence or bedroom, except for required activities, which may include but is not limited to school, meals, work, mental health, or to visit their religious institution. During this time period, any positive reinforcement is revoked and privileges are removed.

Grounding is used as an alternative to physical discipline, e.g., spanking, for behavior management in the home.[1][2] According to a 2000 review on child outcomes, "Grounding has been replicated as a more effective disciplinary alternative than spanking with teenagers."[1] Grounding can backfire if the type and duration of restrictions are too severe relative to the behavior meant to be corrected, or if the restrictions are too difficult for the parent to enforce.[3][4]


This term was used originally in aviation: when a pilot is prevented from flying an aircraft due to misconduct, illness, technical problems with the aircraft, or other reasons, the pilot is "grounded".[5]


  1. ^ a b Larzelere, Robert E. (2000), "Child Outcomes of Nonabusive and Customary Physical Punishment by Parents: An Updated Literature Review" (PDF), Clinical Child & Family Psychology Review, 3 (4): 199, PMID 11225737
  2. ^ Wang, Ming-Te; Kenny, Sarah (2014), "Parental Physical Punishment and Adolescent Adjustment: Bidirectionality and the Moderation Effects of Child Ethnicity and Parental Warmth", Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 42 (5): 717, doi:10.1007/s10802-013-9827-8, PMID 24384596
  3. ^ Eaves, Susan H.; Sheperis, Carl J.; Blanchard, Tracy; et al. (2005), "Teaching Time-Out and Job Card Grounding Procedures to Parents: A Primer for Family Counselors", Family Journal Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families, 13 (3): 252, doi:10.1177/1066480704273638
  4. ^ O'Grady, Colleen (November 15, 2015), Dial Down the Drama, AMACOM, ISBN 978-0-8144-3656-1
  5. ^ "grounded, adj.", Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press (8)