Monday, May 30, 2011


What do parents think happens when they ground their child?  Do they think that their child will no longer do the offending behavior or speak the offending words?  Do they think it will teach their child a lesson? 

Why would a parent think to ground their child when they do something wrong?  Maybe because they were brought up that way?  Maybe because they have seen others do that or heard about doing that from living in our culture? 

I don't believe a child would feel grateful for being grounded.  Instead I think that a child may feel seething anger, resentment and may even think of more ways to get even with either their parents or the person they felt upset with.  They may want to blame others.  They may feel a loss of power and disconnect with their parents.

Being grounded seems condenscending to me in the sense that children are being treated as "less than" and not heard and treated like a person who is an equal or like a person who is cared about and considered as having a hard time, difficult experience, troubled moment, or who has made a bad choice.  Don't we all make bad choices sometimes?  Don't we all have difficult periods in our life or bad days?  How would we treat our spouse if he/she had a bad moment or hard day?  I bet we would treat him/her with compassion, offer to listen or to talk, to give space if needed or wanted, to give a hug, to offer to do something he/she likes to do together, to bring him/her a cup of tea or whatever comfort food or drinks you thought would bring relief and make them feel loved, cared for and provide a sense of peace and calmness.  Wouldn't that be a better choice to offer our children rather than roll our eyes, throw up our hands in disgust and shame and ground them? 

Another way to help us better treat our children is to remember the golden rule and think of love instead of fear.   A note on fear - Much punishment is done because parents are fearful that if they don't nip that "behavior" immediately their child will turn out bad or do the offensive talk or actions forever.  So parents justify the punishment as a means of stopping the actions or words from "ruining" their kids.  This is so fear based!! 

Instead of punishing or grounding, first get into your child's head and heart.  Try to understand where they are coming from instead of immediately justifying why you are right.  Think of how your child feels and what they may be going through and why.  Think of all the phases and stages you and almost every other person on the planet has gone through and how we each have our own paths and processes to get to wherever we are going.  No matter whichever paths we have taken (whether by choice or not), for better or worse, we are where we are now.  How can we make it "for the better" for our child?  Make that better choice instead of doling out the punishment, shame, guilt, distrust and disconnect. 

Instead of punsihing or grounding, give children the same love we would wish someone would have given to us when we were down or that we later regretted.

Give your child credit.  They want to do what feels right to them.  They have reasons for what they do based upon what they think and feel and perceive just as we all do, even if you disagree, don't understand or would choose to do something different.  Try listening to your child ....with love and compassion and empathy.  If your child is willing, have a conversation.  If you still feel it necessary, explain why you felt what he/she did was wrong and what else might have been kinder and more acceptable in our society.  Brainstorm together any other ideas that your child could do if the situation arises again?  Talk about consequences that could arise from the various choices.  If your child doesn't want to talk, maybe they need some space.  Maybe in time, if and when they feel like they can trust you, they will know you are there for them and will be able to share their feelings and thoughts more or ask for you to listen if they would like your opinion, thoughts or ideas. 

Do remember that parents are important models for their children!  Our kids notice (greatly!) how we treat others and how we speak about others.  If you don't like how your children treat others or their siblings, before casting stones, look first in the mirror.  If it is you who needs to apologize and change your ways, do so.  Please don't punish your child for acting the same way you do!  No more "Do as I say, not as I do!"  Instead, talk the talk and walk the walk.  Be the model you want to be!

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