Grounding (discipline technique)

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Grounding is a common discipline technique[1] used with children and adolescents, in which the child, teen, or adult is not allowed to leave their home or bedroom except for required activities such as school (unless the adolescent is suspended or expelled from school), church, meals, chores, or doctor, mental health and dentist appointments.

Other possible consequences can also include removing positive reinforcements, privileges and freedom such as video games, toys, TV (where most parents say "no TV"), computers/iPads/tablets/mobile devices, Internet (except for homework), having friends over, and sometimes sporting events, proms, slumber party, malls and other after-school activities.

House arrest can also be part of the punishment.[2]

Grounding has been suggested as an alternative to physical discipline or spanking for behavior management in the home.[3][4] According to a 2000 review on child outcomes, "Grounding has been replicated as a more effective disciplinary alternative than spanking with teenagers."[3]

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.[2][5]

References to grounding are common in popular culture, including TV shows and films. Animating websites and programs, such as GoAnimate and Plotagon, are also involved in grounding as part of an Internet meme created by users.


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".[6]


  1. ^ Morin, SM; Milito, C; Costlow, N (2001), "Adolescents' perceptions of discipline within intact families and stepfamilies", Adolescence, 36 (142): 281, PMID 11572306 
  2. ^ a b 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 
  3. ^ 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 
  4. ^ 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, PMID 24384596, doi:10.1007/s10802-013-9827-8 
  5. ^ O'Grady, Colleen (November 15, 2015), Dial Down the Drama, AMACOM, ISBN 978-0-8144-3656-1 
  6. ^ "grounded, adj.", Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press (8)