Grounding or Earthing as Effective Discipline for Teenagers

Parents often use grounding or earthing as a consequence when teenagers violate a basic family rule—like their curfew. Grounding and Earthing can be an effective discipline method if it is applied at the right time, in the right circumstances, and for the right length of time. But if not, it can drive a wedge between parents and teenagers. Learn how to apply grounding or earthing as a consequence.

How Grounding or Earthing Affects Teens

Interaction with their peer group is a strong priority for teens. Branching out from family and connecting with others of their own age is an important part of the transition to adulthood and independence. Knowing the importance of these associations, taking them away for a time seems to be a logical punishment when a parent is ready to impose discipline. In many cases, it is. Fear of being grounded will often keep a teenager in line.

But if the consequence of grounding is used inappropriately, it will usually backfire. It may just result in a teen getting more sneaky and deceptive to get what he wants without parents finding out. Or it may drive a serious wedge between your teenager and you. Use these grounding guidelines to get a real change in behavior from your child.

Define What Grounding Means

Figure out what you mean by grounding. There are several types of social interaction that can be restricted. You may want to preserve some of them as valuable while isolating your teen from those that contributed to the infraction.

Earthing may or may not include these forms of interaction:

  • Church or neighborhood events
  • Extracurricular activities or sports
  • Phone calls, text messages, social networking online
  • Socializing with peers outside of school


Natural Consequences Are Best

The more intuitive the consequence, the more effective it will be in preventing unacceptable behavior. Because grounding and earthing involve removal from a social setting, it should only be used when the behavior involves a social setting.

Don't Make the Grounding Too Long

If too much time gets in between the behavior and the penalty, the message is less clear. Grounding for a week, or two or three weekends is probably sufficient to get the message across without losing it over time. A month may be too long. As the parent of a teen, a shorter time gives you a lesser chance of caving in and reducing the grounding period later.

Let Them Earn a Reduction

You can link grounding to other consequences that would allow teens to earn a reduction in the earthing period if they so choose. This might include things like major jobs around the house (cleaning out the garage or stripping and waxing the kitchen floor) or volunteer time at a local social service agency.


Problem-Solve Together

Applying the consequence of grounding may not be sufficient for preventing a recurrence of the problem. You have your teen's attention, now help him work through why he broke the rule and what he will do in the future. Ask him to identify the problem and develop five possible solutions. Discuss the pros and cons of each of them. You may allow him to reduce the earthing time by writing a report on the unacceptable behavior and developing a plan for not repeating it.


Grounding can be an important tool for parents in their discipline kit. But like any tool, you must use it when it is appropriate and for the right kind of job. Following a few simple principles will make grounding a very effective tool for changing behavior in the lives of our teenagers.

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