Creating rules for the entire family will help your household run more smoothly and efficiently. Your children may not like the idea of writing down rules at first, but they will like the fact that the rules create more structure and clarity within the family.
Creating a home without clear and concise rules, with rewards and consequences, is going to invite disorder, conflict, and behavior problems. If there are no rules in your home against such things violence, stealing, and lying then how is a child to know when they breaking the rules?
In order to create effective household rules for the entire family, take these tips into consideration:
- Involve your child in creating the contract (rules) – Children tend to follow rules they help create, and defy those parents inflict upon them.
- Make rules age appropriate – a toddler may may need a rule about biting, whereas a teen about violence.
- Make sure everyone understands the rules – A child who doesn’t read may need pictures.
- Limit the number of rules – a toddler may need one rule, and a teen may need more rules.
- Make rules positive, not negative – ie. Keep your hands and feet to yourself vs. no kicking, no hitting, no shoving.
- Rules need to be clear and concise – Saying “respect others” is too broad, be specific about the type of respect issue you may be having in your home (stealing, back talking, listening, obeying, etc.)
- Add or edit rules as needed – As the ages and behaviors of your children change, so should their rules.
- Everyone follows the rules – Including both parents and all children
- Write down and post the rules – this serves as a reminder to everyone.
Here is a list of common household rules you may wish to incorporate into your home:
- Keep your hands and feet to yourself.
- Tell the truth.
- Respect property. (pick up after yourself, keep common areas clean, turn off lights, ask before using others property)
- Talk nicely. (entails cussing, yelling, interrupting conversations)
- Do as you are told.
- Complete chores by a specific time. (compiling a chore chart clarifies duties and time encourages responsibility)
- Finish homework after school. (waiting until night time encourages procrastination)
- Act appropriately in school and public places.
- Specific bedtime. (drinks, restroom, storytime, etc…happens prior to this time)
- Curfew at a specific time. (anything past this time is considered breaking the rule)
Naturally, every family is different and you must consider the needs, and behavior problems, that are specific to your family. You MUST follow through with consequences EVERY TIME a rule is broken. Inconsistency will make the child test the rule more and more, to see if he/she will get away with it this time. Make sure you encourage and reward positive behaviors!