What are the consequences (mainly in their social life and social development) of depriving your child of their liberty as a form of punishment?

I am not looking (only) for studies on the effects of grounding. In the light of the eventual negative consequences I am (also) looking for (better) alternatives. So I wanted to highlight the alternatives I have already thought of and why I think they are worse (if I am wrong which I doupt and they are better there might be some paper comparing effectiveness and consequences/drawbacks I just firmly believe that I am not wrong and the listed options are worse than sending them to their room).

I don't mean actually jailing them or turning the house or their room in a jail I mean sending them to their electronic free (not dark) room alone (still letting them go out of their room to bathe, eat and use the bathroom) and depriving them for some days of their social life and freedom (easier to do in summer or on holidays, in winter allow them to exit their room to go to school).

I am against "natural consequences" parents need to be proactive and artificially punish immediatly and not wait for natural consequences. When natural consequences come it will probably be too late. States in general don't allow the brutality of natural consequences either. They send the person to jail instead of allowing revenge.

I am against assigning duties and chores forced labour is prohibited in most States and even when it is allowed forced labour is parsimoniously handed out as punishment. I don't want them to identify chores with punishment and something bad. I want them to identify it as some duty (which is why I want to keep chores and duties idependent).

I am against corporal punishment since I am doubting their effectiveness and their pedagogical character.

I am against simply taking away electronics. And withdrawing some privilages. I am afraid that by taking away something they will identify it as something good. So I am afraid they will be prone to getting addicted to electronics and video-games if I take them away. In the other hand I don't think someone can get addicted to freedom and social life.

I am willing to relax the demand that Ignorantia juris non excusat (Ignorance of law is not forgiven) and let the first wrongdoing go unpunished (generally there is no rule in the house before the first wrongdoing so nullum crimen nulla poena sine lege there is no crime nor punishment withot/in the absence of some rule prohibiting the act and threatening some punishment) in turn I don't expect a formal due process (first wrong doing->setting and explaining the rule and threatening a specific punishment, second wrong doing-> asking for an explanation and handing out the punishment which would be room seclusion for some days).

My problem is that I don't know what are the consequences (mainly in their social lives) of making them miss a couple of weekends with their friends or in summer keep them in their room for 10-20 consequent days.

I appreciate (I believe/understand) that out of the options the "jail" type punishment is the most effective and pedagogical (please correct me if I am wrong) but maybe there are other alternatives to an artificial punishment which are more effective, more pedagogical, with fewer drawbacks that I haven't thought of.

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    Is this a sincere question or an excuse to rant? Also, your Latin is off. Commented May 28, 2022 at 23:31
  • @anongoodnurse I would appreciate a charitable interpratation. It was a most earnest question. Commented May 28, 2022 at 23:39
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    It is somewhat counterintuitive to take this question as a simple, sincere inquiry when it is so laced with hyperbole, logical fallacies, and strong negative opinions on some reasonable parenting options. Are you looking for studies on the effects of grounding? If so, why not just say that clearly and more succinctly? If not, there are unspecified variables that need to be considered, e.g. the offensive behavior that justifies 10-20 days of seclusion ( obviously, if handed out for minor infractions, the effects would be different than if reserved for very significant ones)… Commented May 29, 2022 at 4:23
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    …the personality of the secluded individual, the social life of the individual, to name a few. Also, if you’re looking for other options, please edit your question to specify that. Thanks. Commented May 29, 2022 at 4:56
  • @anongoodnurse I am not looking (only) for studies on the effects of grounding. In the light of the eventual negative consequences I am (also) looking for (better) alternatives. So I wanted to highlight the alternatives I have already thought of and why I think they are worse (if I am wrong which I doupt and they are better there might be some paper comparing effectiveness and consequences/drawbacks I just firmly believe that I am not wrong and the listed options are worse than sending them to their room). Commented May 29, 2022 at 12:31

2 Answers 2


It would be helpful to know the age of your children that you're referring too, since age and what's appropriate discipline are closely tied together.

You've listed a number of parenting strategies that work for some parents but not for all.

The loss of privilages, loss of toys, loss of electronic devices and/or time to play, are the most effective parenting tools that I used with my kids. Used in the way I describe below, the outcome for my kids was only positive.

In my experience, discpline that removes a privilage/toy/electronic device from a child for breaking a rule is best done one day at a time. Removing the privilage/toy/electronic devic allows the child to experience a direct consequence for the rest of the current day, or in the next day, and also gives them the reassurance and respect of knowing that they get to try again, the next day or the day after.

Children, even our teens, break rules because that's how they learn about that rule, and as they get older the rules become more complex. Repitition in breaking a rule should be expected to some degree, and then addressed if it continues by changing or adding to the rule.

For example, for a child living with me, let's say I set a limit of 2 hours of time playing video games per day, and after 2 hours I remind my child that it's time to stop, but they decide to continue.

In this case they've already used their time for the current day, and gone beyond that time, so the consequence that I would impose would be that they lose their time for the next day.

The day after, they get their video games back, and when I give them back I again remind my child that they only get 2 hours to play, and that I expect them to turn the games off after 2 hours.

If they go beyond 2 hours again, after I reminded them at 2 hours that it was time to stop, then they lose their games for the next day, again.

Two days later, they get to try again, but now, if they go beyond 2 hours, I'm going to take their games, and they'll lose them for the next day, and I'm going to change the rule.

The rule was that the child gets 2 hours to play video games per day, and if they go beyond that, they lose the games for the next day, but now when they get their games back they only get 1.5 hours to play per day.

If losing their games for a day and losing 30 minutes of their time to play doesn't convince them to follow the rule, then then the next time they get their games back they only get 1 hour to play.

If they continue to go beyond the time that they are given to play video games, again, when they get their video games back, they only get 30 minutes per day to play.

In my experience, having used this form of increasing consequences with my own children, after the frist one or two steps down in time that they had to play games each day, they decided to follow the rule about a the limit for playing video games on their own.

Once they started following the time limit on their own, we agreed on how many days they had to follow the rule before the time they could play games got longer.

  1. they had a set rule with known consequences if they didn't follow the rule
  2. if the original consequences did not encourage them to decide on their own to follow the rule, I would increase the consequences, which was also explained up front, so they knew what would happen if they continued to have trouble following a rule
  3. once they could follow the rule, there was a way for them to get more of what they wanted by following the rule for multiple days on their own without any input from me

In this way, I taught my kids to work within a set of rules that they may not like or agree with, but need to follow, and I taught them that following the rules has benefits.

In my view, this way of parenting prepared my children for going into the world and having to deal with rules that they don't like or agree with, which prepared them for adulthood.

This is the kind of direct consequences that I used with my kids, and if this example doesn't resonate, there are other ways to increase consequences in a reasonable and predictable way that will encourage a child to change their behavior.

There's nothing easy about parenting, and each parent needs to find their own path through the process based on what works for them and for their children and their family situation.

When I read your question I was concerned about how 10-20 days of deprivation would affect a child, and it's unclear how it would improve their understanding or committment to a rule. I believe that that length of restriction will only serve to build the child's resentment and resolve to hide any misbehavior.

I would encourage you to find a short term consequence that affects your child, but also gives them a way to recover, to try again, and make better choices.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Commented May 29, 2022 at 4:12

This answer is written to be a wake-up call for you. It might not seem like it at first, but it does actually provide a meaningful answer to your underlying question. The problem is just a different problem from what you've been thinking about, and that's sort of the problem.

There's a lot to dissect here before we even get to the question underneath all of these distractions. To pick one:

forced labour is prohibited in most States

This is taking massive liberties in assuming homonyms must invariably be synonyms.

"forced labour" is not on the topic of instructing a child to perform a chore. You're pretending like it is, and are using it as your leading argument against any kind of punitive chore for a child. The fact you're sidestepping the parenting considerations here in favor of misinterpreted state law is concerning.

You are comparing the parenting of a child to the rules and laws of a criminal judicial system. The subsequent question of what the fairest criminal judicial system would be is a distraction to the actual problem that needs tackling here.

I appreciate (I believe/understand) that out of the options the "jail" type punishment is the most effective and pedagogical (please correct me if I am wrong)

Since you're so into your criminal judicial analogy, it should be trivial for you to find papers on the societal benefits of incarceration versus rehabilitation. I'm not going to expand on it in this answer as I believe this is the wrong kind of approach, but more importantly it's not the core issue at play here.

There are also significant marks being missed in your answer. You're using "parsimonious" in the wrong context. Your Latin is off and ill-placed. I usually don't like these kind of nitpicks as they tend to distract from the topic at hand, but in this case they are very much on-topic as it appears that you are overreaching, and your ideas and philosophies seem to struggle with a facade of self-important grandeur, which works against you if you want to be a genuine parent to your child.

if I am wrong which I doupt and they are better there might be some paper [..] I just firmly believe that I am not wrong

Here is the biggest red flag in terms of parenting: thinking your own opinion is above reproach, and accepting nothing less than a paper to even want to entertain the idea that you might not have the perfect idea already.

I could devolve this into a gallery of bad parenting decisions that stem from thinking you are always right. I could find plenty of first hand accounts from children who had to live under the rule of these kinds of parents. I could even justify this as an answer by pointing out that you're explicitly (under a pile of verbal diarrhaea) asking for the consequences of bad parenting decisions.

But then I would be fighting fire with fire, and this isn't going to save anyone from getting burned. People who argue and overbuild their argument want to be provided with counterexamples so they can argue about them some more and dig even deeper, further entrenching themselves.

And this is not what parenting is about. This isn't about designing a set of rules to pre-emptively define good parenting, because good parenting means tailoring your approach to the situation and, much more importantly, the child.
Your question is entrenched in the process of dehumanizing one of life's most humanizing experiences: connecting with another human being during their formative years and guiding them on their life journey. This shouldn't be about what you think it right in principle. This should be about who they are as a person and how they will grow.

So instead of me arguing with you, here's me reaching out and connecting.

You're trying to do right by your child, parent them, and guide them to be a happy and good individual. That's a really good goal to have. But there are many ways to work towards that goal, and not all ways are equally effective at achieving them. You've definitely put in a lot of effort to explore your current idea, and it contains several truths and observations that can be helpful to be reminded of once in a while.

But it seems you've slightly gone off course for what your original goal was, which is to guide your child towards a good and happy life, so it might be good to evaluate if your current focus is aligning well with your goals, and if your current opinions and ideas can be further improved.

You're clearly wanting to work on this and that's good, and if you refine your approach (as you go, always, not just this one time) and tailor your approach to your child, you'll be building towards that goal in no time.

The above is a genuine response to you, but I also want to point out that this kind of response/connection would be good to replicate towards your child when you need to discuss something with them based on a mistake they made.

It's not about the punitive measure or judgment, it's about understanding what they were trying to achieve, pointing out the good parts of it, and then highlighting that the bad parts could be improved going forward.

Good luck!

  • I am actually (this was 100% my intention) asking for the consequences of a (potentially) bad parenting decision (I want to explore the decision itself, whether it is bad or not based on its consequences and better alternatives). Commented Mar 4 at 0:06
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    @GeorgeNtoulos/ I need to you really look back at that comment and notice how many different branching sentences you are interlacing here. Your communication style is opaque and ups the complexity in a way that will significantly detract from your ability to get the point across to a child. Your entire comment could be boiled down to a handful of words, everything else just gets in the way. Furthermore, it seems you're not really understanding what this answer is saying, instead just nodding and continuing along the path you had already decided for yourself. I can only lead the horse to water.
    – Flater
    Commented Mar 4 at 1:47
  • I always had this problem (interlacing many different branching sentences) and I don't know how to fix it. Oral communication help me a bit. Written communication is a nightmare. Commented Mar 5 at 17:36

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