Establishing House Rules
It is hard to believe it but children actually need and want rules in their lives! Rules help them understand how you expect them to behave and when they are behaving as expected.
When they do behave as expected it is important to reward good behavior so as to reinforce it and encourage children to continue behaving in this manner.
As a parent it is your responsibility to ensure that your kids know exactly what is expected of them. Establishing a set of house rules can help you achieve this goal.
Most families have house rules but they are not always clearly defined. Writing down your set of house rules ensures that helps achieve this purpose and ensures that everyone is on board.
How do you establish House Rules?
1) Define problematic behavior – Think above your child’s behavior or children’s behavior if you have more than one child. Jot down the issues that need to be addressed.
2) Define the most challenging periods during the day – Is there a time of day that you find particularly challenging? Doing homework? Getting reading for school or day care? The melting hour? Time to go to bed? Time to get into the shower?
3) Make a list of chores that need to be done – cleaning up, picking up toys or any other chores that need to be done around the house. The chore list obviously changes according to the child’s age and ability.
4) Prioritize issues that need to be addressed – you cannot have a list of house rules which is a mile long. Make a realistic list of rules that everyone can stick to.
5) Have a family meeting to discuss the concept – tell the children that you would like to have a calmer and happier environment at home and you would like to share ideas on how to achieve this goal. Ask them for suggestions and proposed rules that they think they should follow. They might have creative ideas that you hadn’t considered. The more involved they are in this process the more likely they are to follow the rules. If a child suggests a rule which is later included in the list they will be more likely to follow it than a rule that you have decided upon without hearing their opinion. Take notes during the meeting but make it clear that although you want to consider their ideas and rules the final set of rules will be decided upon by their parents. Although all family members will live according to these rules (parents too!) you – as a parent – have the right to decide exactly which rules will or won’t be included in the house rules. Having ice cream for breakfast might be an interesting suggestion but obviously will not make it to the list of house rules.
6) Have all regular caregivers agree on the house rules – Once you have completed each of the previous steps parents can then decide upon the final set of rules. It is important that parents agree on each and every rule on the list. If parents do not agree on the house rules then they will not work. It is important that both parents are united and consistent throughout the process.
7) Present the rules to all family members – have a family meeting and present the rules. Ensure that each of the rules is clear and understood. Use pictures for kids who cannot read. Make a copy for each family member and/or put a copy somewhere prominent, such on as the fridge, so that we can see them every day. If you have a regular babysitter or caregiver make sure that they are aware of the house rules.
8) Praise children when rules are followed – reward charts can help with this. Find a reward system that works with your children. You can find many ideas on this site. If you witness a conflict between your children during which they talk to each other respectfully and explain to each other why they each think that their sibling is wrong without fighting about it stop to praise them for the manner in which they chose to deal with the conflict. Siblings will not always agree with each other but that is legitimate. It is important that each child has their own opinion and we do not want them to necessarily automatically agree with their sibling’s opinion. They should have their own opinion and stand up for their rights but it is important that they do so in a relaxed and respectful manner without yelling or violence.
9) Decide on the consequences when rules are broken – discuss exactly what the consequences are and don’t forget to enforce them.
10) Be consistent – if you allow children to break the rules the system will not work.It will not be clear when the rules can be broken and when they can’t. Occasionally you will need to break the rules. When you do break the rule explain to the child why the rule was broken so they understand that this is not a sign that they rule does not apply but special circumstances that require a deviation. For example, if you house rule is that children need to be in bed by a certain time and then the family attends a special even that will cause them to arrive home after their bed time. Explain to them that in order to attend the event you have decided to extend their bed time that day. This will make it clear that their bed time has not changed and the next day you will be following the rules again. They will also understand that although that particular rule will be broken that day all other rules apply. So although they will be going to bed late there will still be no fighting that day.
11) Set an example – if you do not follow the rules that apply to you then you cannot expect your children to follow their rules. So if you decide that there will be no yelling in the house then both you and your partner have to follow this rule too.
Family Rules for Kids – 18 printable posters with house rules. Each of the house rules can be edited to personalized the poster.
Family Rules Sign with a Frozen theme.