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Job Grounding as a Method of Discipline

Many parents use grounding as a way to discipline children. However, when parents ground children for several weeks, it often loses its effectiveness. Grounding puts restraints on the whole family, and in time, parents may give in. When this happens, children learn their parents won't follow through with the grounding they impose.

Job grounding involves brief and intense grounding. Your child is given a chance to earn his or her way off grounding by completing a job. This works best with 10 to16 year old children. Job grounding also helps your child learn how to do various jobs around your home.

  1. Sit down with your child and develop a list of at least 10 jobs to be done around the house. Choose jobs that take at least 1 or 2 hours to complete, and that your child is able to do. Examples of such jobs are sweeping out the garage, raking the front yard, and vacuuming the living and dining rooms. Talk about job grounding at a pleasant time, not when your child is about to be punished.
  2. Write each job on a separate index card with a detailed description of how to do the job correctly. For example: Wash kitchen floor: Sweep the floor first. Remove all movable pieces of furniture. Fill a bucket with warm soapy water. Wash the floor with a clean rag, squeezed so that it is not dripping. Replace the furniture that was moved.
  3. Explain to your child that when she has broken a rule (for example, fighting with a brother or not coming home from school on time), one or more job cards will be assigned. The child will randomly select the assigned number of cards from the prewritten job cards. Until the assigned job described on the card is done correctly, the child will be grounded.
  4. Being grounded means:
    • going to school
    • performing required chores
    • following house rules
    • staying in own room unless eating meals, working on chores or homework, or attending school
    • no television
    • no telephone calls
    • no record player, radio, etc.
    • no video games or other games or toys
    • no bike riding
    • no friends over or going to friends' houses
    • no snacks
    • no outside social activities (for example, movies or going out to dinner).
  5. Grounding does NOT mean:
    • nagging
    • reminding about jobs to be done
    • discussing the grounding
    • explaining the rules.
  6. When the jobs are completed, make sure that they have been done correctly. Praise your child for completing the chores correctly. If a job is not done correctly, review the job description and give feedback on what was done correctly and incorrectly. Without nagging, have your child redo the tasks that were done incorrectly in order to end the grounding.
  7. Your child determines how long he or she is to be grounded. The grounding lasts only as long as it takes to complete the assigned jobs. It could last several hours or several days.
  8. If the grounding seems to be lasting too long, make sure that your child's life is dull during the grounding. Do not allow snacks, video games, or other activities. Make sure you are not giving them more attention when they are grounded than you do when they behave well.

If you plan a family outing, get a baby sitter to stay with your child. The grounded child stays at home.

Written by E. Christophersen, PhD, author of "Beyond Discipline: Parenting That Lasts a Lifetime."
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2006-11-01
Last reviewed: 2006-09-11
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
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