Continuing with my posts regarding Dr. Ellen Bowers and her ideas in regards to positive discipline. Dr. Bowers proposes two types of groundings for children; the first is used with younger children and also with more compliant children. The second is used for older less compliant children.
The first type of grounding that Dr. Bowers proposes is the classic “Grounding In”. Dr. Bowers writes concerning this, “Deprivation of freedom, or ‘grounding,’ is usually used with adolescents who are at the age of growing up when social freedom matters most of all. Grounding can include prohibition against going out with friends, against having friends over, against talking on the phone, against computer messaging friends, or against engaging in normal social or recreational activities. Long-term grounding tends to be counterproductive because you turn punishment into a prison sentence, your home into a prison, your child into a prisoner, and yourself into a prison guard…”
The more interesting component to grounding to me is the idea of a “Grounding Out”. A “Grounding Out” according to Dr. Bowers would be used in cases such as this; “In extreme cases, there is another kind of grounding, different from ‘grounding in.’ Suppose your late adolescent refuses to stay grounded in the house for violating curfew and decides he can leave home anytime he likes and stays gone as long as he wants. At this time, you may elect to use ‘grounding out.’.
You say something like this to your unruly teenager: ‘You need to know that we are operating a home, not a prison. As you have made perfectly clear, you can leave whenever you choose and stay out as late as you like. We can’t stop you. However, although leaving is up to you, permission to return is up to us. When you want to return, you can call us. From the time of the phone call, you must stay away from home for twelve hours for the first curfew infraction, twenty-four hours for the next curfew infraction, and so on. During that time you will have to make your own living arrangements, and you cannot come by and pick up clothes or any other belongings. At the end of this grounding out, we will meet you at an outside location at a time of our convenience to discuss the rules you must be willing to live by if you want to return to live at home.” (Bowers, 2011).
In response to reading this I have all sorts of thoughts running through my head. The most prevalent thought is one of fear. I personally have had parents in the counseling office with me asking me what to do in situations similar to this. I have literally sat there and said something to the effect of, “I’m not sure, but I know that you have to do something.” This solutions seems very reasonable and at the same time I think that most parents out there would be too afraid to follow through with this type of action plan
I would like to hear from both parents and children concerning this approach to grounding.