RULE OF PARENTING #9: Your House, Your Rules: 5 Tips for Setting House Rules That Work

Your House, Your Rules: 5 Tips for Setting House Rules That Work

Rules Of Parenting - # - Brother and Sister Having BreakfastRules are essential for a sane, mutually respectful family. Setting rules does not make you a dictatorial parent. On the contrary, it is a way for loving parents to foster a peaceful home where everyone takes care of the other. Here are 5 tips for setting house rules for the whole family:

1. Collaborate in Creating the Rules

It is important to involve each family member in establishing house rules. This ensures that everyone agrees with most of the rules and gives little incentive for dissent. Even kids as young as three years can be involved in the process of rule setting– explain to them what rules are and why the whole family needs these rules. Come to an amicable agreement about the do’s and don’ts without over analyzing or micromanaging each situation. Together, simply come up with ground rules that help to maintain a sense of order, safety and respect within the home. Even though rule making should be a collaborative effort, remember that you are the parent and you have the last word.

2. Keep Things Brief

Rules should be specific and easy to remember. This is especially important for the younger children who might find it difficult to remember long complex lists of rules. If you have both young children and grownups, you might want to come up with two lists. However, everyone must understand and remember the overall family rules such as coming to dinner on time, not yelling or abusing each other etc. A list of five rules is better than ten rules. The more precise the rules are, the easier it is for everyone to comply.


3. Spell Out The Consequences

Rules are empty without an understanding of the consequences. By setting out the consequences and following up on them, each family member will feel compelled to comply with the rules. Of course, this does not mean that no one will break the rules. It means that your children will understand that their behaviour does elicit some consequences. Explain to your children what it means to break the rules and follow through with the punishment. Ensure that your children understand what they are being punished for when they do break the rules.


4. Be Flexible

Yes, rules are rules. But, sometimes things change and the rules need to be revised to accommodate these changes. For example, you might need to change the rules as your children grow up. The rules that applied when they were 6 may no longer be applicable when they are 13 years. Consider your child’s needs depending on his age. At 6, safety rules may have been more important, while at 13, rules on curfews may need to be included. You may also need to adjust rules for using the computer time for your 18 year old if he is still living at home.


5. Get Tough

It may be easier to get your younger children to follow the rules. But what about the stubborn 18 year old who still lives in your house? It is important for parents to get tough with older children when it comes to house rules. Sit down with your adult child and discuss the house rules such as using the family car, drugs and alcohol use, curfews, finding work and helping around the house. Write down what you agree on and clearly state the consequences of breaking the rules. Consequences might have to be tough to ensure that the adult child realizes the impact of non-compliance.


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