I Grounded My Son

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Casual scribe

I Grounded My Son

I'm a mum of four , 1 boy and 3 girls. My son is 16 and the girls are all under 13. My son has some problems with his behaviour that have been ongoing for a number of years. He is always in trouble at school, the school have complained to me that he is disruptive in school. At home he is also very disruptive. Recently he has been bullying his sisters and a month ago i reached the end of my tether and decided to punish him, i grounded him for 6 months. Now its a month into the punishment and he is mad at me and he tells me that he gets depressed and he can't control his bad behaviour. He says he is sorry and begs to be let off. His behaviour has been better since i grounded him but i think he is doing that to try and please me so i let him off. i'm worried as soon as i unground him he returns to his bad ways. My question is what should i do? i know he has some kind of problem and i would like to get him help and not just punish him. he has to be punished for bad behaviour but he also should have help if he needs it. i am worried he won't co operate if i take him to see someone. Is the 5 month grounding too severe?  His behaviour has been very bad for a long time and he wasn't getting any punishments for it for a long time, i feel that letting him carry in the way he was without consequences will do him no good in the long run, he will just carry on because he can get away with it, since i grounded him he now realsies he can't get away with it anymore. But i am worried about his mood and what the underlying cause of his behaviour is.




Re: I Grounded My Son

Hi @Lou2017 welcome to ReachOut parents and thanks so much for sharing this. I hope you find a great resource as some of our parents begin to provide some feedback on what you're going through.


I am sorry to hear you are having such a difficult time with your son, it really can be a very stormy experience trying to understand our teenagers. You mentioned your son is very disruptive and has been bullying the girls - what do you think is causing this behaviour? Is there anything underlying he may be dealing with? I think your idea of taking him to talk to a professional is wonderful. There's also kids helpline who have webchat available in his age range, as well as a phone line.

Even if you do minimise the length of his grounding, it sounds like you have illustrated that there is a defined consequence to his behaviour. I think it's okay to renegotiate the length. It may not be an overnight fix, and your son may return to his disruptive behaviour, but the key thing is he has received a pretty big message by already spending one whole month indoors. I am keen to hear other parents thoughts on this Smiley Happy 

Look forward to hearing from you.

@taokat @motherbear @Zoesplace

Casual scribe

Re: I Grounded My Son

Hi thanks for the reply.


I am not sure what makes him so disruptive because when i try to talk to him he won't talk much about it. All he says is he hates his teachers at school and he doesn't like his sisters because he wishes he was an only child. He resents them for taking my attention away from him. He also feels that my husband(who is his step father and the father of my girls) and i prefer them to him. I do find my daughters a lot easier to manage than him its true but i don't love him any less. So a lot of what he does is for attention i think, but he needs help with anger issues too. He doesn't like his step father much and  feels like the odd one out because all my girls were fathered by him and his real dad isn't around and doesn't want to see him.


I want to take him to see someone i just hope he co operates and doesn't get angry at the meeting.


If i do reduce the grounding and he starts being bad again i will feel like i failed. 6 months is a long grounding i know (and some might say its too long) but its hard to reduce it now that i've set it, reducing is like giving in and i don't want him to think i am going to be a soft touch and tolerate anymore of the behaviour. it is a tough one. I know that this month indoors has really been bothering him, everyday he is begging to be let off and i keep being tough and refusing.

Parent Peer Supporter

Re: I Grounded My Son

Hi @Lou2017 Thanks for sharing, I am glad you found the Reach Out Parents forum...there are plenty of parents on the forum that have had various challenges with their teens that may be able to offer their wisdom. 


It sounds like you are having a hard time dealing with your sons behaviour issues, but you also feel that he has a genuine problem too. What sort of problem do you think your son has?  Behaviour problems can sometimes be as a result of other issues, so it may be a good idea to speak to a health professional to determine what is going on for your son.  I can sense your concern to make sure your son gets help while also managing his behaviour. It must be terribly hard for your daughters too.  


If your son has not had many consequences for his behaviour in the past, it will make it harder to enforce a 6 month grounding. You expressed your concern about the period of grounding and I think @Breez-RO has some great advice in regards to this. One thing I found helpful when my daughters behaviour was at her worst was to have consequences agreed to ahead of time.  This took the emotion and a lot of stress away, as she knew what to expect and it was easier for me to enforce.


Another good resource is the ReachOut Coaching for parents.  The coaching is free and very practical that  offers tips that you can use straight away. The link is here if you'd like to check it out. It's done online and over the phone so it is very flexible.   They may be able to help you come up with some ideas.


Please let us know how things go.   

Parent Peer Supporter

Re: I Grounded My Son

Hey @Lou2017, I just wanted to check in and see how you're going? Decisions around parenting can be difficult and asking other parents how they've coped or what their experiences have been can be such a great help and confidence builder. Good on you for reaching out for suggestions. 


If you have concerns around his mood and behaviour, getting some help for him could be really helpful. If it comes to it that he won't attend or engage with the counsellor, it could still be a good opportunity for you to discuss what's going on with him and find ways to help him from home. I've found with my daughter that I've been able to help her by changing how I interact with her. She wouldn't attend counselling for ages, but I learned so much from still going by myself.


6 months for a teen can seem like an eternity. I understand that when we get to the end of our tether we are inclined to dish out the harshest of punishments - I've certainly done the same thing and relate to your worry of changing your decision. What worked for me was telling my daughter that I was happy with the efforts she has made so far and recognised the changes in her. Therefore I wanted to put some trust in her and so was taking away the punishment while this better behaviour continued. It sounds like there have been improvements in your sons behaviour and that he has accepted there are consequences. If you decide to drop the next 5 months grounding, you can always discuss with him that if he goes back to his poor attitude, there will be consequences once again. 


My daughter and I often work out consequences together. I find that when she has a part in it, when it comes to it, she is way more accepting of copping the consequence.


@Zoesplace's suggestion of ReachOut's coaching is an awseome one too. I've done it and was given some really handy suggestions to deal with the issues we were facing at home. The coaches are just lovely and very experienced.


Does any of that sound like something you'd like to give a go? 

Prolific scribe

Re: I Grounded My Son

Hi there @Lou2017 so sorry to hear you at odds with your son and the final straw was you grounded him for six months. Boy he certainly pushed you to your limits. Kudos to you for sticking to your penalty despite the fact that you now feel it might be a bit harsh lol !! I have done the same, once I have cooled down ! The fact that he is begging you everyday and you are sticking to it shows me you and strong and conscientious Mum well done you ! 

My suggestion would be to stick to it now you have " survived " the first month .However, if you feel that you are in a position to say that his behaviour  has been so good that you are thinking of re-negotiating after 3 months then do so.  However, make sure he knows you are waiting to see how things pan out for the moment . Nothing is set in stone. Make this clear and you have a strong bargaining chip and it comes from a position of power not weakness.

It is imperative you find out what is behind the negative behaviours. If he feels that you and his step dad favour the girls this needs to be acknowledged and validated even if its not true. Its great that he has managed to express this to you ! Wow that is awesome. Work on that with him. 

What do you both do/not do that gives him this message ?

What could you do differently ?

What would he like to see change for him to feel loved and respected the same as the girls ? 

It is important that all children get special one to one time with each parent to feel they are loved equally. Maybe your husband is unknowingly subconsciously favouring the girls ? To a degree this would be understandable, as they are  his biological children and although step parents hate to admit it, it happens.  Its not something to be ashamed of or refuse to acknowledge, better to own it and work on the relationship with that child a little more consciously . Hi step dad spending "boy" time with him might help this. 

Your son, has the added burden of maybe feeling rejected by his birth dad.  He may not think it consciously even but if the girls have a great relationship with their dad- he might well think where is my bio dad, why  is he not in my life like the girls dad is ? 

These are questions to explore with your son. It might be a little confronting  for you and your husband but if you start slowly and incrementally across time it might make it less so. 

Very little of our behaviours are just down to personality and bad attitude. There are always core beliefs and ongoing messages that we send to our children ( often unwittingly ) that  set the status quo  and are often fueled by other issues outside  the family arena . They add to the mix and get in the way of  harmonious relationships and getting on with our life in a positive way. 

Let us know how you go ! 




Prolific scribe

Re: I Grounded My Son

First of all well done for asking for help it's a harsh world we live in. Anger issues are broken down into I'm sad, I am unhappy I don't feel listened to, nobody cares. As humans anger is an overrated word that means we are emotionally unwell. Being abandoned by our parents is harsh for a child they don't have the ability to break down the adult junk and cope. We can't manage it either so we cannot pass the tools on. Teens are hard work, their brain is the wrong way down, they can't manage their own emotional traumas on their travels. However, there are as others have suggested various avenues that you need not actually say anything just leave brochures or send emails to him. He can see you are communicating and trying without forcing him into language he may not want to hear. 6mths would feel like forever for a teen by showing you can negotiate depending on his behaviour is actually about choices, teens forget choices its black or white for them. If you can I would read about abandonment issues of each age group if you haven't already to allow yourself the opportunity to try to understand why ppl feel and act like they do. I have done this personally so my parenting crap is halved and I haven't traumatised my kids. Apparently I'm doing ok according to them. Listening to teens when they actually want to talk (which they do but we know nothing) there can be long sentences but only a few keyword. I will be doing something ignoring their garbage until I hear particular words or tones, I say hey hang on say that again and listen to the really important thing I need to know. I have a SN teen who can see the words in her head but she cannot get them out and for teens frustration ends up going around inside their head and making life worse than it actually is. It is difficult but these years too, shall pass. Just keep breathing, you are stronger than you think you are.


Parent Peer Supporter

Re: I Grounded My Son

Hey @Lily17, great to see you! Your post grabbed my attention around the abandonment by one parent issue, which is very real for some kids, including mine. I'm wondering if you'd like to start a topic on it, as I'm sure it's an issue many parents are dealing with for various reasons?


Something to maybe explore @Lou2017?