Grounding (discipline technique)

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Grounding is a general discipline technique which is used with children, in which one is forbidden to leave their place of residence, except for required activities, such as school (unless one is suspended or expelled from school), essential medical care, attending a place of worship, or visiting a non-custodial parent. During this time period, any positive reinforcement is taken away and other privileges, such as but not limited to using the Internet, playing video games, or watching television, are often revoked. The punishment may include having to do extra chores or schoolwork as well.

Grounding is used as an alternative to physical discipline, e.g., spanking, for behavior management in the home.[1][2] According to a 2000 review on child outcomes, "Grounding has been replicated as a more effective disciplinary alternative than spanking with teenagers."[1] Grounding can backfire if the type and duration of restrictions are disproportionately severe for the behavior meant to be corrected, or if the restrictions are too difficult for the parent to enforce due to resistance.[3][4]


This term was used initially in aviation: when a pilot is prevented from flying an aircraft due to misconduct, illness, technical issues with the aircraft, or other reasons, the pilot is "grounded" – that is, literally confined to the ground.[5]

Popular culture[edit]

The term 'grounded' has been used on GoAnimate/Vyond videos (more than once), known popularly as 'grounded videos' that would spark a subculture in 2011, in which characters (including those based on children's shows) are depicted misbehaving (e.g. getting in trouble at school, getting poor grades, being irresponsible, missing homework, abusing their privileges, and the like), behavior card day videos, and then being grounded for disproportionate amounts of time (often exaggerated into many decades, centuries or millennia).[6]


  1. ^ a b 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): 199–221, doi:10.1023/a:1026473020315, PMID 11225737, S2CID 37681413
  2. ^ 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): 717–30, doi:10.1007/s10802-013-9827-8, PMID 24384596, S2CID 37712572
  3. ^ 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, S2CID 144651696
  4. ^ O'Grady, Colleen (November 15, 2015), Dial Down the Drama, AMACOM, ISBN 978-0-8144-3656-1
  5. ^ "grounded, adj.", Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press (8)
  6. ^ "Kid reviews for GoAnimate | Common Sense Media". Retrieved 12 July 2021.