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Support and Advice from TNPC's Parenting Experts

How does a parent keep a child from breaking the rules? Obviously, it is not always easy. Some form of effective punishment is essential to letting your teens know what you will and will not accept from them. One punishment tool that is used a lot is grounding. I feel that grounding does not usually work, especially when it is done as “overkill”…constantly and arbitrarily grounding kids for any and every type of misbehavior. Kids don’t see the relationship of grounding to what they actually did or did not do. The best “punishment” for misbehavior teach us something. We have to experience the consequences of our misbehavior in order to learn why we should not do it again.

One of the reasons that parents use grounding as a punishment is that it is simple. They don’t need to think about WHY the misbehavior is occurring, or how to involve the child in preventing it from happening again. It takes very little effort to say “You are grounded”, but does it teach the child what we want him/her to learn?

Your daughter needs to set some goals and try to be more responsible. Start by telling her what you want for her in terms of life skills that will be in her best long-term interest. Ask her to help figure out some ways she can improve, and get her ideas on what the consequences should be if she does not improve. Write down the ideas the two of you come up with and try them out. If they don’t work, try some other ideas; work on them together.

Make the consequences match the misbehavior whenever possible. For example, get a timer for phone calls, and if she goes over the limit, subtract that many minutes from the time she is allowed for calls. If she is late, subtract the amount of time from the time allowed for her next outing. if she forgets a chore, make sure she does it before she gets to do something she wants to do.

Think of similar rewards for good behavior. In these ways, your daughter will be responsible for controlling her behavior, and will be able to improve it. Grounding her would not give her this opportunity. A book you might like to read is “Grounded for Life” by Louise Tracy, Parenting Press, $12.95. you may also be interested in the brochure “Tips on Communicating with Teens”. Send a $3 check written to Tips Dept. 8 along with a self addressed, stamped business envelope to Tips, 50 Ashley Creek Drive, Newnan GA 30263.

Evelyn Petersen’s nationally syndicated parenting column is carried in over 200 newspapers twice each week. As a family/parenting consultant, early childhood educator, Head Start consultant, and host of a series of parent training audio and video tapes, Ms. Petersen employs an approach of providing hands-on, nuts and bolts advice to parents across the country.Evelyn Petersen’s nationally syndicated parenting column is carried in over 200 newspapers twice each week. As a family/parenting consultant, early childhood educator, Head Start consultant, and host of a series of parent training audio and video tapes, Ms. Petersen employs an approach of providing hands-on, nuts and bolts advice to parents across the country. You can read more from Evelyn at her web site: www.askevelyn.com

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