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What's the Best Length of Time to Ground a Defiant Teenager?

Hi Mark- I have been reading through the online parent book listening to the audio & watching the video sections... I am finding it very useful and it makes a lot of sense. I am determined to make the changes. Just wondering if you can help clarify something for me please... The 3 day grounding was put in place on Sunday night...(due to my son not coming home for the entire weekend...)

--No Telephone
--No TV
--No Computer
--I have confiscated new shoes
--No Pocket Money

He smashed the mirror in his room, burnt his other shoes, cut up another pair, I basically said bad luck and we found another old pair for him to wear. Tuesday night he came home at 7.35 ( I have set the curfew @ 7pm) so I started the grounding again...

Yesterday he refused to go to school???? Last night he came home on time, asked numerous times about his shoes, then relaxed for a while, we ate dinner together, had a nice evening until he took my shoes and hid them... I got upset but I didn't lose my cool too much Thank God. At one point I threatened to call the police if he didn't return my shoes... I didn't call them and eventually found my shoes. I didn't realize till after reading the section about this situation this morning the best way to deal with it...

This morning he tried again going on about the shoes saying that he won't go to school until I return the shoes???? He asked for some money, I said no, he was angry and swore at me then he left the house...

He got pulled over by the police asking why he's not at school, they called me, I gave them his JJO's number, they took him to his Juvenile Justice Officer, she has strongly advised him to go to school....

Would you recommend that I extend the 3 day grounding until he attends school?

Kind regards

S.

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Hi S.,

When a parent wants her child to fulfill any particular obligation (in this case, going to school), she (a) makes it clear what is expected and (b) makes it clear what the consequence is for not following through with the expectation. If the child refuses to meet the expectation, the parent follows through with the consequence (in this case, grounding for 3 days with no privileges). However, the clock does NOT start until he walks into the school building -- but he’s grounded with no privileges in the meantime.

Here’s an example from another parent: Her expectation was for her son to mow the grass. He refused. So she implemented the 3-day-grounding, and the clock started as soon as he started mowing the grass (he was grounded with no privileges in the meantime). The son figured out that he could start the clock whenever he wanted. So he cranked up the mower and did his chore so he could go over to a friend’s house.

It’s important for the child to know that he has some control over the consequence (i.e., he gets to decide when the clock starts), and the longer he procrastinates in meeting the obligation, the longer he has no privileges. (This approach falls on the juvenile brain a bit better than hearing that the 3-day-discipline has been extended by 2 weeks).

Mark Hutten, M.A.

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