My children are allowed a far amount of freedom and independence. As a whole they respect this and generally follow my rules.
However as the two older boys have hit the preteens there has been a bit more boundary pushing, with more sibling arguments and turf wars. Inevitably, their younger sister gets involved and things quickly deteriorate. For this reason, and a few others, I have decided to re-establish some boundaries and set down some “Family Rules”.
The benefit of family or house rules is that it creates a clear structure for children so they know what to expect and what is expected of them. It is also helpful when other kids visit as there is a clear expectation of what is and isn’t allowed under your roof.
Having explicit rules also helps with consistency, which is the make or break of any discipline. By having articulated rules that apply to everyone, it makes your job as a parent a lot easier!
Every family/household will have different rules depending on their values and beliefs. Something you might think is very important, such as “No hats at the dinner table” might not be as important to another family. Your rules are also likely to be age dependent.
Here are a few tips establishing rules for your family:
1. Keep it simple
For rules to be easy to follow they need to be easy to understand and remember. You also don’t want to set down 100 commandments. Keep it to the big important stuff so think about what will help ensure a safe and happy home environment.
2. Consult the kids
If your children are older you can have a discussion about what they think are reasonable rules for your family. If they are involved in the process they are more likely to have ownership over the family rules, stick to them and help encourage others to follow them.
3. Consider age appropriateness
If you have a range of ages in your house, not all rules will be the same. For example, individual allowances around screen time may vary but the overriding family rule might be: “When your screen time is up, you log off immediately” or “Chores must be done before screen time.”
4. Remind them of the rules
Don’t expect your kids to always remember the rules, especially new rules or if the child is quite young. Remind them often and consider having them written somewhere easily visible in the house to remind older children who can read.
5. Set consequences
Whether it be withdrawal of privileges, time out or whatever you deem to be a appropriate, consequences need to be consistently and promptly enacted for your rules to be effective. On the flipside, be sure to praise or reward your kids when they follow the rules.
6. Revise rules as necessary
As kids grow and change, so will your family rules. You may also set some rules that don’t end up being very practical for you to implement. Family rules don’t have to be set in stone.
I really like this list of sample household rules. It’s simple, covers the important things and instils good values.
In every community there are rules and norms to follow. By teaching your child to follow family/household rules, you are not only helping create a safe, secure home environment but you are also preparing them for life outside the home.