General Question

trailsillustrated's avatar

Is grounding a teenager for bad grades an effective tool?

Asked by trailsillustrated (16751points) November 23rd, 2010

I just had a huge argument with my husband over my discipline of my daughter. She is in an expensive prep school that he is paying for, she is on acadaemic probation. They had a snow day today, so I let her go to her friend’s (honours student) to study. I let her go to a birthday party Saturday night but made her come home at 8. (It was a sleepover). She is staying after school every day for study hall, being mentored by other students for their honour society hours. I am working with the school to know her assignments and keep on top of her to work on them. He thinks I am too easy going with her and should have kept her grounded for two weeks. I can’t stand the arguments with him about it, he thinks she should be confined to the house and her room until two weeks are up. Does grounding a 14 year old over grades help at all? Her behaviour otherwise has not been a problem.

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39 Answers

iamthemob's avatar

It sounds like you are doing an amazing job actively trying to address the actual problem. Grounding someone doesn’t make them a better student. Being involved with them does…that’s what you’re doing.

I would make it clear, though, that you are doing this because she deserves the chance to improve. Let her know that if she takes advantage of your involvement and doesn’t put in the work, you’ll know quickly…and respond accordingly.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I think it depends on the child. For some teenagers, knowing that they lose the fun privileges like going to birthday parties and studying with friends is enough to help them get their act together and bring up their grades. For others, it could cause them to rebel and do worse. You know your daughter better than we do.

Supacase's avatar

I think you are being more reasonable. She is missing out on privileges but not so much that she will rebel. I believe she will learn more through your approach.

Zyx's avatar

Not a parent but it’s probably more productive 99% of the time to just treat your children like people, keeping in mind their age and lack of experience. “Punishment” like this is a blunt tool that often fails to bring across any point at all. If parents want teenagers to act reasonably they’ll expect the same. This is why parents have trouble with teenagers, teenagers compensate for their lack of knowledge by learning the convient stuff first. Deal with it.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I’m with @seazen. Reinforcement first or support.
Here’s something from long, LONG ago. Grounding or other punishment is appropriate ONLY if it was already on the table as “cause and effect”

If you do . . . then . . . .

Give her a hug, she probably needs one.

nikole273's avatar

I’m a 14 year old girl. And I’ll tell you this.
If you’re too strict with her, you won’t get good results from it. If you tell her that if she gets good grades, then she can do certain things, like go to parties and things, you will see a dramatic increase in her work. I strongly suggest instead of giving her negative things for not doing good work, you give her good things for doing good work.
At least, that’s how my mom treats me :)

Soubresaut's avatar

I don’t think it would help. Personally, whenever my parents tried to get me to do something by creating a non-related punishment, it didn’t have much affect on me other than to make me get angry and feel powerless. (If you don’t eat your veggies, no TV!—Where does that kind of thinking come from?)

I don’t think handling this like a failure that deserves punishment is the right approach. Education shouldn’t be about artificial exterior pressure. Even if the grounding did manage to get her grades up, that’s all it did. It didn’t give her (real) incentive, or motivation, or better ways to deal with problems in the future. It locked her in her room for two weeks, and loomed over her a fear of non-compliance. It didn’t have much to do with the learning at all… I feel that’s wrong.

And anyway, it sounds like from what you’ve said, she’s already working on trying to do better. Punishing that would be completely counterproductive.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Personally, if i risked punishment for bad grades, my first thought would be that maybe it is worth cheating to pass.

nikole273's avatar

That is true, good point

marinelife's avatar

@nikole273 Are you sure that you’re 14? You seem awfully mature!

Mikewlf337's avatar

Grounding a teenager for bad grades is a great way to get them to bring them up. Take away their previleges when they have bad grades and then they have another reason to bring them back up. Sometimes you have to be strict and do what you have to do if you want the best for your child.

nikole273's avatar

ahahaha, thank you! ^^ But yah, I’m actually 13, but about to turn 14, so I just kinda said I was lol. People do say I’m pretty mature for my age though haha :)

BarnacleBill's avatar

This may sound harsh, but an expensive school will not, as the expression goes, turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. In other words, if your daughter is just an average student to begin with, she will continue to be an average student whether or not you send her to an expensive private school, a less expensive private school or a good public school.

At 14, hormones and peer pressure rule the day. The peer study hall probably is not doing much in the way of help; I would look into something like Huntington or Sullivan tutoring and address the learning gaps that she has in her base education. You won’t get an A in algebra if you don’t understand basic math. You can’t write if you can’t spell.

I wouldn’t ground, but I would remove distractions, like a television in her bedroom, access to ready cash to go shopping, things that constitue “priviledge”. These things should be earned back, or make her earn the right to do something with her friends on the weekend. If she’s turning the work in, studying at home, and doing what she’s supposed to do, then perhaps she needs to be sent back a grade so she’s not struggling so much. Sometimes just the idea of that is a great motivator.

YARNLADY's avatar

I have found it effective, but only if they use the extra home-time catching up with the studies they are behind on.

wundayatta's avatar

I can’t imagine this would help. I mean, it’s totally ridiculous and ineffective. There are so many tools these days that provide a way to get around parental rules. What are you going to do? Take away her computer and phone, too? How is she going to do any work?

No, it is as others have said and it is as you are doing. You need to support her, not punish her. You are now trying to understand what she needs to do and help her organize herself. I’m sure she hasn’t been slacking because she wants to. It’s probably a new school, and the social situation is all different, and she may not have the executive skills necessary to cope.

On the other hand, maybe she hates the school and wants to be kicked out so she can go to another school. Maybe you’ve already had this discussion with her, but if not, it wouldn’t hurt to ask her how she likes the school and if there are any social problems.

The best way to get good results is positive reinforcement. My daughter is 14, a freshman in a school ten times the size of her middle school. She is incredibly organized and works very hard and is highly motivated to do the best she can because she wants to get into a good college. This is not something we’ve told her directly. But she’s picked it up and bought into it. She’s got a 102 average which, apparently, will go up when adjusted for the toughness of the courses she is taking. And she wants to take every AP and honors and IB course she can put into her schedule.

We haven’t pushed her at all. In fact, when we tell her we are not pushing her and whatever she does is fine, she reads us the riot act about how important hard work is and sometimes I wonder where she came from, because I was a lazy SOB in high school. Ok, maybe not that lazy, but I never put pressure on myself. I did what I could do without working too hard, and I did just fine. My wife is the hard working one. So my daughter got that from her.

My daughter is almost always in her room, and she spends a lot of time on Facebook, but I really don’t care what she’s doing as long as she’s doing her schoolwork, which she seems to be doing. She’s a happy, entertaining girl with a lot of confidence in her looks and talent and again, I have no idea how that happened (given how I am the opposite in almost every way, and my wife is quite shy, too), but I am glad it did.

This is not to say what we did will work for everyone. But it can work. I could tell you about my son, who really does have executive functioning problems, but I’ve gone on too long. Well, one thing: you can’t keep him away from the piano and you can’t keep him from drawing in every spare moment, even as he watches TV. And now, he’s started (at age ten) communicating with a few girls in his class over the internet. They use Google Docs and “edit” each other’s work. It’s cute. But it’s also teaching him to type, which he has resisted for years. Amazing how friends (gfs?) can motivate you.

snowberry's avatar

First, how you deal with her depends a great deal on her personality. I had one kid who, when offered rewards REFUSED to buy it. Apparently she felt manipulated, and I was pretty much the same way. Punishing me was just about as bad. I think I punished my parents more than they punished me (I was a difficult child).

Secondly, I read through the question, but I didn’t notice why she is struggling. If she is behind because she was lazy, etc. that’s one thing. If she needs to be evaluated for learning problems or learning differences, you need to pursue it. All the punishment and tutoring in the world won’t help if she’s not getting what she needs.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

My parents did that. It backfired a LOT. First, if you ground her for 2 weeks when she gets bad grades, what are you going to do when she actually does something bad? When she rides in a friends car but isn’t allowed to, is that 6 months? Then what happens if she gets wasted at a friends house – 2 years? A drug problem – juvie (sp?)? If you ground her for 2 weeks for getting Ds, but only 2 days when she gets wasted at a friends, that does soooo much more damage in inconsistency than either punishment alone.

Also, when my parents punished me, I just found ways around it. I learned that there was no way for me, a human who errs on occasion, to not spend tons of time being punished. So when they took away tv, I simply purchased a 5×5 B/W tv at the grocery store, snuck it home in my backpack, and hid it under my bed. Then I’d just wait till they went to bed, go downstairs and make myself what I wanted for dinner, and watch Friends reruns. I didn’t mind not hanging out with friends, because I picked up a porn addiction to keep me occupied. When I wanted to fool around with boys (and girls, but I’m bi) I just did it at school on my off periods.

I panicked so much about getting good grades that I’d freak out during tests, and tear up, which then made it so that I couldn’t see the test properly, so then I’d tear up more… I probably failed a lot of tests and classes just because I was so concerned about doing well that I couldn’t actually do well. And now I’m having to do a year at a community college before the college of my choice will accept me because my transcripts suck.

BarnacleBill's avatar

I agree with @snowberry. Root cause analysis. If you ask Why? five times, you generally get at the real answer. Ask her, ask her teachers. Jumping to the conclusion “she needs to study more” will not fix the problem if the problem is that she’s disorganized, has poor time management skills, or the work is too difficult for her level of educational attainment, or has an undiagnosed learning disability.

My daughter, whose in college, announced last night that she finally realized that she studies better at a table in the library than she does at home, mostly because the phone is turned off, and her computer isn’t there.

wundayatta's avatar

@papayalily Is a perfect example of what I was talking about. It’s not even that kids are that much smarter than their parents. It’s just that parents don’t have enough of the right kind of time for their kids.

We really have no choice but to trust them to exercise good judgment. That requires laying a groundwork starting when they are toddlers. It’s harder to do when they are teens, although I’m sure it’s possible.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@wundayatta Thanks! (Sadly, that wasn’t sarcastic. I can’t believe I didn’t take up heroin with all the shit my parents pulled.)

littlekori's avatar

Well I am in high school and have never once been grounded for my grades. I have had bad grades, but my parents knew that i was trying but i just didnt understand it. So it sounds like you are addressing the problem and your child is trying to fix it. So i dont believe that grounded at this point will do much, but if the grades drop drastically and your child is just not trying and not doing her work, then grounding for a week may help.

trailsillustrated's avatar

thankyou everyone. I have her in therapy-(she likes her therapist and thinks it’s helping). We were separated when she was 8 and she lived with my ex. I am just now finding out how often she and her brother were left alone with no supervision and many truancy problems. She did not finish year 8. Also there was drinking and violence in the home. That is why she is here with me.. I think she is trying, I am going to ask my husband to just trust me on this one, the arguing is wearing me out. Thanks

snowberry's avatar

Since she missed so much school, she will have huge learning gaps. This is not a learning disabliity, but it will act like one. She has never learned how to discipline herself, how to learn, how to love to learn, or a dozen other things. She should not be given homework, unless it can be completed in a supervised situation. All she’ll need to de-rail her program is an unfamiliar word in the instructions, or not properly understanding a concept, and boom, she won’t do her assignment again. It sounds like she might qualify for an IEP (indivitual education program), because of the above mentioned issues.

trailsillustrated's avatar

where can I get and find out about IEP?

snowberry's avatar

Ask your school district.
Testing can be expensive, and sometimes they will pull all kinds of stunts to keep from having to do it, but stay with it. Be persistent, and be polite. PM me if you have more questions. You also might mention this in another question about how to work with the school district on getting her an IEP.

snowberry's avatar

oops, I re-read your question. Since she’s in a prep school, go to the school counselor and they should set you up regarding the IEP.

Cruiser's avatar

Reward her for what she does right. Punishing her for what she does wrong is not a teachable moment. It sounds to me like she just needs better study habits and a place at home where she can focus on her work without cellphones, texting, Facebook etc. distracting her. Let her earn privileges for good effort. Reward for a job well done has my youngest on the A/B honors roll and my oldest who is pulling straight A’s in all AT Honors classes his Freshman year in highschool!!

trailsillustrated's avatar

@Cruiser thankyou, that’s what I think too- I just got her grades for pr1— all failing exept for art and wellness. She has only about 8 more weeks to turn it around then they will dismiss her. I have been working with the counselor at school, nobody has said anything about IEP but I will ask. Thanks again @snowberry

snowberry's avatar

OK, I have been talking to a family member who is a school administrator. He tells me that even if she does not have a learning disability, she may still qualify for a 5-O-4 plan. That would still be a benefit to her.

He says it takes about 8 weeks to do the testing and get the results, and the school district is the one to do the testing. They don’t do it for just anyone; there has to be evidence of a problem of some sort. It sounds like your daughter would qualify.

If you get this, it would be like she gets to start over, and the new bench mark would be the IEP or 5-O-4 plan. Depending on her needs, she might be able to stay at your private school, especially if it’s a larger school (the smaller schools don’t have the resources).

I also suggest you get her into a good martial arts school. It’s fun, teaches respect of adults and those in authority, self discipline, and a lot of the good stuff she’s missing. It will help her to focus her brain, and give her all sorts of positive reinforcement. There is a fair bit of research out ther proving this as well. Do a search for “school performance and martial arts and see for yourself”. Go Mom!

Keep me posted, and PM me about the results, would you please? Thanks.

trailsillustrated's avatar

@snowberry thankyou so very much. I do appreciate it. Her school is a small, very well endowed school. But if she bombs out, she’ll go to the local public school and I will certainly find oiout about thise programs there. Thanks again.

snowberry's avatar

A thought: See if her teachers would be willing to spend extra time tutoring her long term. She’s got a lot of holes to fill. And please do look into martial arts. It will really help to re-wire the brain.

trailsillustrated's avatar

I will look into it tomorrow. I don’t know if she’ll want to do it, she’s all into her friends and the social thing. She is getting tutoring help, one of the teachers tutors after school, and there are the honour society kids. I can’t really tell if she is just at too much of a deficit to grasp and do the work, or if she just is too lazy or something. ( I never say this to her) Thanks @snowberry I’ll let you know what happens.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
trailsillustrated's avatar

@alyssapiechocki just so you know- since I asked this question, in November, my daughter pulled me into her room and told me how uncomfortable she felt in our house, that my husband treats me like a slave, that she thought he was snooping in her room, (it sure wasn’t me) and wanted to go back to our country. So I told him and he was only too happy to buy her a ticket. Now I am divorcing him and going back too. My children are both ecstatic. Just grit your teeth, I guess, untill you are of age. Try to talk to your mom alone, about this. It’s up to her to deal with him about you- it’s really hard when a step parent is involved. You have my prayers, sympathy, and I feel for you, I really do. Good luck

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@trailsillustrated Is he her step-father?

trailsillustrated's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs yes. She lives back with her biological father now. Till I can get there.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
tylermurr's avatar

Hello, I am a 14 year old boy that knows grounding like the back of my hand. I have always been grounded because of grades. Heck, I am grounded right now (I am using my schools computer). I think that grounding is useless because I just don’t care since my parents have used it so much. I actually lost my two best friends because I am grounded so much. So please, don’t abuse the power you have. It ruined me and my dad's relationship for good. We don’t even talk anymore. So far, you are doing great.

P.S. I only have 1 “C.” The rest are all high A’s.

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