How to Get "Ungrounded"
Whether you flunked physics or broke curfew for the umpteenth time, you’re now facing a sentence of days or weeks with limited or no social connections. Fortunately, you can start taking steps now to earn back your freedom by recognizing what went wrong and making the necessary changes to show your parents you’ve learned from the mistake.
Whether you flunked physics or broke curfew for the umpteenth time, you’re now facing a sentence of days or weeks with limited to no social connections. No tiktok, no snapchat, no social media PERIOD. In place of your favorite tv shows after school, you’ll now be doing schoolwork diligently until it’s all finished. All of this for a bad grade, a dumb prank, or a few too many “fun nights out” with friends. Does this sound familiar to you? If so, keep reading.
As you get older, consequences inevitably move from a short timeout here and there at 5 years old to what could be, depending on the severity of the wrongdoing, a pretty hefty grounding at 16 years old. Fortunately, you can start taking steps now to earn back your freedom by recognizing what went wrong and making the necessary changes to show your parents you’ve learned from the mistake.
Stay Calm and Cool
Keep a level head when you're faced with an emotionally charged situation with your parents. While your first reaction to losing your privileges likely borders on explosive indignation and moral outrage, a melodramatic response isn't going to help your case.
If you've messed up, fess up. Be prepared to admit your mistake rather than charging into a heated argument. While staying calm may not get you off the hook, your responsible attitude begins paving the road to redemption. If you’ve already had a blow-out, take a deep breath and check your anger. Discuss the problem with your parents as maturely as possible to begin making amends for your transgression.
If you’ve been caught in a lie, broken house rules or let your grades slip, your parents’ trust in you has likely been shaken. And because it’s their job to help you become a responsible and trustworthy adult, this form of discipline is intended to help you learn from your mistakes. Fortunately, discipline is educative, not punitive, and you have the opportunity to learn from your mistakes, regain trust and act responsibly. Offer an honest apology and commit to earning back your parents’ trust. Rather than immediately trying to lift your restrictions, an apology demonstrates that you understand the severity of the issue.
Make a Plan
If you’ve been banished to the confines of your room for a less than stellar interim report card, show your parents you’ve learned your lesson and are worthy of a second chance by presenting a detailed plan for pulling your grades out of the gutter. Incorporate daily homework and study time, arrange for a few moments each day to share your assignments and projects with your parents and keep your mom and dad up to date with upcoming tests.
Instead of spending every weekend with friends, propose to turn one or two of those evenings each month into a group study session at your home. You could even suggest that your parents help with mini trivia games to help you study for tests in the classes you may have been struggling in! While you might not bring your grades to soaring heights overnight, if you’ve been flunking every pop quiz in science class, your parents will be delighted when you present them with a “C” as a testament to your new-found dedication and hard work.
Propose a Point System
Instead of looking for the immediate reinstatement of your previous privileges, propose a point system whereby you earn your freedom through a series of good deeds, proper behavior, successful homework completion and improved grades. Present your parents with the idea and then work together to determine a fair point value for each positive action. For example, if you must earn a total of 100 points to regain your weekend social privileges, assign values such as 10 points for every completed homework assignment, 5 points for assigned extra chores and 10 points for every improved test grade. Keep a chart and work toward accomplishing your goal of freedom -- and a passing grade.
Alternatively, if you’ve been grounded from your techno toys for tanking your midterm math exam, propose a one-to-one ratio system whereby your parents get to see results before letting you off the hook; one phone call or texting session on your cell phone for every good grade you receive on a test, project or assignment.
Note: If it’s your first time getting grounded, your parents might be more lenient on the consequence. The less you misbehave or slack off in school, the more your parents trust that you are doing your absolute best. This is a good opportunity to explain why you made the mistake in the first place and why they should trust you to not do it again.
Remember, the trick isn’t learning how to get “ungrounded” and avoiding accountability for your actions. In fact, it’s best to avoid getting grounded at all by surrounding yourself with good friends that won’t get you into trouble in the first place. Everybody makes mistakes, but the chances of repeating these mistakes are much lower if you’re surrounded by people that actually care about spending time with you rather than stirring up trouble and making your life a lot more difficult in the long run.
In my life, all it took were a couple of little mistakes in high school to show me the importance of putting my attention into positive things (and people) that made myself and those around me happy rather than take part in whatever negative activities might have been trending around my high school at that time. If you find that you might be getting in trouble more often than you’d like and your mental health is suffering because of it, it is likely time to reevaluate your priorities. Since your parents really just want to see you succeed, meet them halfway and make it so they won’t have to live out every parent’s worst nightmare: becoming the bad guy.
- Empowering Parents: "You're Grounded for Life!" Why Harsh Punishments for Children and Teenagers Don't Work
- HealthyChildren.org: General Rules for Disciplining Teens
- Online Parenting Coach: How to Ground Your Child
- How to Win Friends and Influence People for Teen Girls: Donna Dale Carnegie
- I Choose Change: For Teens Only: How to Gain More Freedom and Trust at Home
- Darrin Klimek/Digital Vision/Getty Images