Grounding (punishment)

Grounding is a common discipline technique[1] used with older children and teenagers, in which the child or teen, or adult is not allowed to leave their home or bedroom except for required activities such as school, church, or employment.

Other possible punishments include removing positive reinforcements, privileges and freedom such as watching TV, playing video games, fast food, junk food, access to the internet (except for homework), computers/tablets/mobile devices, having friends over, and sometimes sporting events, proms or other extracurricular activities from the child or teen's environment.

House arrest can also be part of the punishment.[2]

Grounding has been suggested as an alternative to physical discipline or spanking for behavior management in the home.[3][4] According to a 2000 review on child outcomes, "Grounding has been replicated as a more effective disciplinary alternative than spanking with teenagers."[3]

Grounding can backfire if the type and duration of restrictions are too severe relative to the behavior meant to be corrected or if the restrictions are too difficult for the parent to enforce.[2][5]

References to grounding are common in popular culture, including TV shows and films. Animating websites, such as GoAnimate, are also involved in grounding.


This term was used originally in aviation: when a pilot is prevented from flying an aircraft due to misconduct, illness, technical problems with the aircraft, or other reasons, the pilot is "grounded".[6]


  1. Morin, SM; Milito, C; Costlow, N (2001), "Adolescents' perceptions of discipline within intact families and stepfamilies", Adolescence, 36 (142): 281, PMID 11572306
  2. 1 2 Eaves, Susan H.; Sheperis, Carl J.; Blanchard, Tracy; et al. (2005), "Teaching Time-Out and Job Card Grounding Procedures to Parents: A Primer for Family Counselors", Family Journal Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families, 13 (3): 252, doi:10.1177/1066480704273638
  3. 1 2 Larzelere, Robert E. (2000), "Child Outcomes of Nonabusive and Customary Physical Punishment by Parents: An Updated Literature Review" (PDF), Clinical Child & Family Psychology Review, 3 (4): 199, PMID 11225737
  4. Wang, Ming-Te; Kenny, Sarah (2014), "Parental Physical Punishment and Adolescent Adjustment: Bidirectionality and the Moderation Effects of Child Ethnicity and Parental Warmth", Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 42 (5): 717, doi:10.1007/s10802-013-9827-8, PMID 24384596
  5. O'Grady, Colleen (November 15, 2015), Dial Down the Drama, AMACOM, ISBN 978-0-8144-3656-1
  6. "grounded, adj.", Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press (8)
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