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Alternatives to Time-Outs and Groundings

Updated on May 27, 2016

Looking to have an 'un-punishment' that will really work for your child?

Ever ground your child, just to find that it seems it is more work or stress for you and really doesn't work?? Why should we punish ourselves, as parents, over and over again with following through with overseeing the punishment or consequence that the grounding that your child is facing? Do you find that the grounding gets forgotten in the momentum of everyday life? And how do we decide how long the grounding should be??

Grounding your child doesn't only suck for them... It really sucks for parents too!

What if there was a way to ground your child, get results and not have to pin an exact timeline to -- that will actually get positive results for you and for your child? There is a way, a fairly simple way! For the sake of labels, lets call it the "Grounded List", as it pretty much covers this method.


Basics of the Grounding List

Explaining the easy to grasp concept

A "Grounded List" does not have time lines. It is simply a tool that your children can use to 'make it better'. It is a simple way that they can be in charge of correcting the wrong that they have done.

The 'Grounded List' is composed of the things that they have to due in order to be out of the grounding. Once they have met all of the items on the list, their punishment is done, over and forgiven.

To save time and stress, try creating the 'grounded lists' ahead of time. By preparing them ahead of time there is no stress, you go, get the piece of paper and duct tape it to your child... JOKING! Handing it to them is perfectly acceptable.

Try making the lists with your children. By letting them have input it will ensure that they will completely know what they will be facing for back-talking, staying out late, etc... This time spent together can be very valuable as well, as it is a time that you can explain your point of view (your child will likely listen to reasoning better at this point, when they are not in hot water)... And the end result? This will help both you as the parent and your child know what they will be facing when the 'unthinkable' happens and they find themselves grounded.


How old is your child?

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4 Examples grounding lists - Where the consequences match the action

Please note, I put like with like... If it is a car offence, the punishment is about vehicles... If the grounding is because they have been overly messy, their list would contain cleaning items...

Once everything is done off of the grounding list then they get what ever privileges back that have been revoked..

For each time they ask to do or have something that they are grounded from, before the 'Grounding List' is complete I would add one more thing to the bottom of the list!

Copernicus CEPAC455 Magnetic Lined Dry Erase Board Grade Kindergarten to 1 Age 25.5" Wide, 36" Length, 1.5" Height
Copernicus CEPAC455 Magnetic Lined Dry Erase Board Grade Kindergarten to 1 Age 25.5" Wide, 36" Length, 1.5" Height

This is a great versatile magnetic dry erase board that would be fantastic for putting on the fridge! Where everyone can see it while they are getting use to utilizing it.


A way to keep track of what is going on - I like to use a white board that has the rules posted

By having a white board that states the different 'Grounding Lists' for the different 'offences' it will have your child be aware of what actions have what consequences... They may just find themselves thinking twice before acting once!!!

And if by chance they 'take the chance', you as their parent will not have to take the time to figure out what the consequence will be... Or even worse: Make a rash decision on the spot! The white board can easily become one of the most valuable parenting tools in your home!


Do you find time outs in the corner to be productive?

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Actions and consequences... Does the crime equal the punishment?

1. If they missed curfew:

The Consequence:

~ They can only leave the house for school and for things like doctors appointments

The 'Grounding List'

~ Clean all the clocks in the house

~ Change the clock batteries in all the clocks in the house

~ Write a list of ____ things why a parent might worry if their child is late

~ Write a 1/4 page appology

2. A teen took a 30 kilometer detour with the car when they were only supposed to go to one destination and back...

The Consequence:

~ They are not allowed to use the vehicle

The 'Grounding List'

~ Detail moms car

~ Vacuum out moms car

~ Check all the fluids in moms car

~ Wash moms car

If it was something that they had recently been through the 'Grounding List' for I would up the anti and have them do all of the above for both mom and dads vehicles!

If they are big enough to make the mess... I'm pretty sure they are big enough to clean it up!

Or how about...

3. A child that leaves a trail of mess behind them...

The Consequence:

~ They are not permitted to 'use' what they made a mess with

~ They can not go out or have friends over until the list is complete

The 'Grounding List'

~ Solo dinner cleanup

~ Clean a siblings room

~ Take out the trash, from all of the household trash cans

~ 15 minutes of penalty clean-up time added for each thing I have to pick up behind you for while you are finishing this list

~ Write a list of 3 people that they would be embarrassed to see the house a mess, and two reasons for each person as to why they would be embarrassed

4. Exceeded their extra video games/computer time, etc:

The Consequence:

~ Turn in all electronics that they own (until the list is complete)

~ No T.V, computer or video games until the list is complete

The 'Grounding List' or 'Make it better list'...

~ Ride a bike for 20 minutes

~ Play a board game with the family

~ Take the dog for a 20 minute walk

~ Call two family members that live far away

...If the child is turning to video games I like to put things on the list that will reengage them with healthy activities.

A note about #4

This may not seem like a consequence. Really?? They get to go do fun stuff??? YES! Indeed they day! If you have an electronic junkie, as most houses do these days, you will likely face an issue revolving around cell phones, video games or computers. This one for me is about reminding my children that there is more to life than a screen: AND IT WORKS! Most of the time it ends up being an hour bike ride with the family, three or four board games, etc...

A great way to keep in charge - Of electronic widgets and gadgets

Sometimes it is hard to set limits on electronics. When you turn them off, they can easily be turned right back on... Unless...


Will you be trying the List method discribed in this lens?

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Master Lock Lockout Tagout Device, Electrical Prong Plug Lockout Device, 110 and 120 Volts, S2005
Master Lock Lockout Tagout Device, Electrical Prong Plug Lockout Device, 110 and 120 Volts, S2005

You kids will feel that this gadget is not their friend! And you will get the control over electronics that you desire....


Keep their minds engaged

And their bodies busy to help them stay out of trouble

Prevention is the key to creating opportunities for success in a child's everyday life. Mistakes happen. It is a part of live and a reality that we all live with and can grow from, no matter our age.

If we can identify the strategies that our children can learn from once unfortunate situations occur, we can set them up for success!

What course of consequence will work for them to develop a healthy understanding of the mistake that they have made? Will they develop the much required, healthy skills that in the end teach them to grow and will require less disciplinary follow-up with every month that goes by.

If our children are exposed to situations and opportunities where they can have their minds engaged in a healthy way there will be less opportunity for them to misbehave. It can be as simple as a ball to toss in the yard, or as complex as a project that will take a 1000 pieces of Lego... The more opportunities that we create for them to behave the better their chances for success!

What type of time out works for your child?

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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Parents must apply carefully chosen, appropriate consequences. Otherwise, without consequences, you are powerless. And . . . punishment is not a consequence. Punishment happens when an adult loses control.

    • profile image

      jen09 writes 

      4 years ago

      My kids are still babies, but I think that would be a great idea!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      4 years ago from Canada

      Fortunately I don't have any children at home any more but I wonder if those grounding lists would work on my husband? (Spellcheck blooper: The Punishment~They are not allowed to use the vehicle. Aloud should be Allowed). Have a great day. I really do enjoy all the wonderful photos that you use on your articles. They are so fun.


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