When you have clear house rules, life becomes easier for you as the parent and your children. With rules, you’ll be adding order to the chaos, and your children will know where they stand and what behaviors and habits are most likely to get them into trouble.
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Despite all the advantages, the process of creating and setting house rules can be daunting, especially if you’ve never done so before and your kids just aren’t used to having defined rules to follow. Patience and clarity is the key here, and you can also use the following ten time-tested house rule tips to get all your family ducks in a row!
1. Speak To Your Partner
Before you even begin creating your rules, speak to your partner. Your goals will help drive your rules, and your partner needs to have input and can add to the conversation. Talk about what isn’t working in your home right now and what is. Ask yourself and your partner if there are any behavioral problems in the house that need to be addressed. Make notes about your goals and your conversation, as you can use this information in your rule creation process.
2. Have A Family Meeting
Whether you have small children or teens, a family meeting will allow your children to add their voice to the conversation and feel like they have value. Ask your children what they would do if they could make two house rules. You may get some silly answers, such as “Chocolate for dinner!” but you may also get some valuable insight on areas that your rules should address. Take notes during the meeting so you don’t forget about any good points that were raised.
3. Keep It Simple
It may be tempting to have 10 rules or more, but in reality, your children will probably have a hard time remembering a long list of them. Try to stick to five rules or less, and make sure each rule is clear and concise. These are rules your children should and need to be able to memorize, so keep that in mind when you’re creating them.
If you have children of varying ages, you may need to make multiple rule sets. The rules need to apply to each child’s age, and some things that are necessary for a five-year-old may not be relevant to a teenager, and vice versa.
Create a different set of rules for inside and outside the house. This way, your children know what is expected both inside and outside your home.
4. Keep It Positive
Try using positive wording in your rules, as this will show your kids what you want them to do rather than just what you don’t. “Be kind to each other,” for example, works on far more levels than simply “Don’t call your siblings names.”
5. Post The Rules
Your rules should be posted in a prominent, high-traffic area of the home, such as on the fridge in the kitchen. If your children are too young to read, use simple pictures to illustrate the idea behind the rule to get your message across. Confirm that the rules are clear and that everyone fully understands them before you start enforcing them.
6. Adjust For Development
As children age, the type of rules you need to set may change. Be prepared to alter the rules as your children age to reflect the change in their development.
7. Stay Firm And Clear
Children generally need some sort of structure. While they may get upset and say they hate the rules, they need them to feel secure and safe. Having house rules is a way to set boundaries, but they only work if you’re clear on the rules, and you stick to them no matter how much your child protests.
8. Always Practice What You Preach
Even though you are setting the rules down for your children, they are looking at you, too. Make sure you follow the rules you set so you’re an example to them. If you or your partner doesn’t follow the rules, your children will notice and be far less likely to comply.
9. Use Both Praise And Consequences
Praise motivates children, so don’t be afraid to give some kind words when your kids are behaving well and following the rules to the letter. They also need age-appropriate consequences when the rules aren’t followed; otherwise, they won’t take the rules seriously.
10. Reassess When You Need To
As you set and begin to enforce house rules, remember that it’s a work in progress. Some rules won’t work the way you thought they would, and another one may need to be added or adjusted. Be willing to alter the rules as needed until you find the right fit for your household.
Some Common Examples…
As you’re drafting the house rules, you may find you’re not sure what to include. Check out some commonly used house rules below to get your own process started.
• Always respect people’s things: This rule teaches your children always to ask before borrowing an item and to take care of it when they do. Learning to respect other people’s belongings will help your child develop better communication skills and foster respect in them for others.
• Remember to do all your chores: Chores are a great way to teach responsibility at any age, and this quality is definitely something your child will need to have to be successful in life. Even your toddler can do a simple task, such as placing clean socks in a basket. Chores should be assigned to everyone in the household.
• Parents set bedtimes: Bedtimes can be a huge source of stress for many families, so it’s important that your children accept that you decide when they go to bed. This is a rule that needs to differ by age, as your two-year-old will naturally go to bed earlier than your pre-teen.
• The house is for walking only: No running in the house should be a given, but if it’s a problem in your home, this is a rule you may need for safety.
• Place items back in their home: Whether it’s the remote control or a book, items need to be returned to where they came from. This will help your child learn respect for things that belong to them or someone else.
• Use your inside voice: This one is a positively worded way of saying no screaming, yelling or screeching inside the house, and it may be necessary if you have a child who is a little bit too loud all too often.
The house rules you set today can have a positive effect on your home life and your children for years to come. Create and implement some house rules today to help everyone in your home get along a little better and add some organization to your life!