Alyssa Rae is a 16-year-old from Rochester, New York. She loves her friends, her sisters, and thunderstorms.
Some teens always seem grounded. I am one of those teens. My friends will call me up and ask if I’d like to have a sleepover on Friday, go to a bonfire on Saturday, or hit the mall on Sunday. I feel like I’m always saying, “Sorry, I can’t, I’m grounded… again.” Even some of my family (the ones who aren’t doing the grounding) have said to me, “Alyssa, you are always grounded. I think you are grounded more often than not. What did you do?” Everyone always asks what I did, and most of the time I have the same answer, “I don’t know.” Now when adults hear the phrase “I don’t know” from a teen, they generally assume one of the following:
– The teen in question does know, but doesn’t want to say.
– The teen thinks that the adult won’t understand
– The teen just doesn’t want to talk about it
– The teen needs a quick way out of explaining something
Think about this, parents: Isn’t a week or more of punishment for one incident a bit of overkill? After a while, about three or four days in, we get really ansty, and could possibly just do what we want anyways. We don’t necessarily mean to defy you (well, a little we do), but we need to see our friends, and if we are just going to have them over anyways, wouldn’t you prefer to take one or two things away from us and leave it at that? Do you really want to ground us, have us do what we want even though we aren’t allowed, have you find out and then ground us again? This cycle seems endless and unnecessary and therefore completely ineffective. It can’t possibly seem like this system of grounding your teenage child is an adequate form of punishment. It doesn’t work. Grounding causes angst, and in turn, more punishment.
I’m not saying I completely disagree with punishing your teen. In certain situations, to an appropriate amplitude, punishment can be entirely sufficient. For example, this past school year, I went on a class skipping spree. It seems for a little bit I had a better time wandering around the building than I did sitting in class. My mom was notified of all my random one period absences, and was not happy. I didn’t get grounded though. She said, “If you skip one more class, you can’t have a sleepover after prom. Another class after that? You’ll be getting ready by yourself. And if you can’t seem to quit after that, no prom.” Of course, being the teenager that I am, I had to test this. I skipped gym. She wasn’t bluffing. I did not skip again. I think that going about punishment in this manner is a great deal more effective, and more fair. When it’s laid out like this it’s clear to the teen- you do this, you loose this.
Now, I know that not all punishments have situations leading up to them like this. Many of my friends and I have been grounded, over and over again, for what feels like the same thing. If you are going to ground us, please don’t double jeopardy us. If your teen is doing the same thing multiple times, and you ground them for it each time you find out the behavior repeats, is grounding them for it really working? If a week long punishment was working, you would have to keep doing it. Try simply talking with your teen about the continued behavior, you could be amazed by what you find out about your teen, and why we are doing what we do. I believe it is time to stop grounding, and try something else; talking to your teen about what they are doing, strengthening your bond, and putting the problematic behavior to an end.