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"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way" ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

You're grounded until further notice!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, August 17, 2010

If you don't trust where, with whom, doing what, and at what time can you expect your teenager to come home, then don't let him out. Let him know, "I am not comfortable with you going out- stay home."

This is a safety issue first and foremost. Don't get hung up on whether or not it is punishment- it is- but get over it because the main thing is all about safety. Teens with drug issues need structure. If they are just wandering out there, they will get into trouble.

The biggest reason that parents don't ground their teenagers is because they are afraid that the teenager won't stay home and then it will be obvious that the teen is not under parental control. At that point, the teenager is all ready not under parental control and steps need to be taken to place that teenager under supervision.

Be clear. The best thing is often to give it to the teen in writing. For some teens until they see it in writing they think they can still argue about it or they think it's not really happening. They will persistently nag the parent until they get a response that is vague. Something like, "OK OK OK do what you want! I don't care!" To the parent that might mean, "Go ahead and go out and you take the consequences for that!" But to the teenager that means "Go ahead and go out and there are no consequences."

Picture yourself being stopped by a police officer for speeding. You are not sure if you are getting a warning or a ticket. You only know for sure that you got the ticket when you get the ticket handed to you. Just write your teen a ticket or put it on a blackboard where everyone can see it. Be clear. If your teen goes out anyway, then at least you know where you stand! You have an out-of-control teen.

HOW LONG AM I GROUNDED FOR? Until further notice. A minimum of two days. Until I feel like I can trust you. These are all acceptable. If your teen goes out while he is grounded, go get him if you can and bring him back home with you. Stay tuned for more information on out-of-control teenagers in the upcoming post.

HOW CAN I BUILD TRUST WITH YOU IF YOU WON'T LET ME OUT! Great question. Great answer is this: The way you conduct yourself at home will help me to see if you are being responsible. If you are not responsible at home and if you aren't making good decisions at home then there is no reason to think that you would out there. Acting responsible at home means a lot of things [introduce talking points that you have been wanting to get across, e.g., don't be pushy with the grounding thing- accept it- do your chores- don't have a chip on your shoulder- don't be in touch with unapproved peers while you are grounded- don't be sneaky, etc)

There are a lot of more creative ways to disclipline your teenager and don't fall into the trap that "grounding" is your only method. Get ideas from the teenager about effective discipline if you like and sometimes that works; however, if you don't trust that your teen is going where, with whom, and doing what he is supposed to be doing- then don't let him out. It's a safety issue first and foremost. If your teenager is basically trustworthy, but not doing all his chores then find a more creative sanction or just utilize the "do it now" technique. Reserve grounding for safety issues and for situations where you can't come up with anything more creative.

When you are being told that you have to let your teenagers out so that they can make their own mistakes and learn from these mistakes, ask yourself if learning from a drug overdose, from a crippling automobile accident, or from being arrested is OK. If it's not, then let your teenager learn from being grounded instead.

It helps if you take cell phones when your teen is grounded. Take computer privileges. Don't let friends stop over. Give them an essay to write about responsibility. Make it a home-work intensive grounding and sit with them or right along with them and do that home work. If your teen is attending 12-step meetings don't just let him find his own way there. Take him to the meeting. Wait for him or go into the meeting yourself so that you know for sure that he is there. Remember, that you are placing him on grounding because you don't trust that he is going where, with whom, etc. If you don't have the time to do that then maybe going to the meeting is not the most important thing.

Grounding a teenager is usually labor intensive for the parents. It is inconvenient for the parents. It is sometimes as tortuous for the parent as it is for the teenager. Still, the alternative, letting a teen who has a drug problem range free in the community when you know that he is not going where, with whom, and doing approved activities is a recipe for disaster. That disaster when it comes won't be too convenient either.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We will call ourselves: Fred, Wilma and Pebbles.

Lloyd, thank you for the post!

I was feeling very sad that Pebbles made the wrong decision again and chose not to follow the written grounding note (your direction of writing the note to Pebbles was perfect, she could not argue, badger, twist or debate) the issue, there it was in black and white handwritten by Wilma and given to Pebbles by you! How could she argue? She didn't but she took it one step further and decided that it would be easier to move out of our house and into the "other parent's house".

I feel much better today and again you were right. I got over about feeling bad that Pebbles is "not getting it"!

Your insight is invaluable to us.


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