Children thrive on structure and predictability, and a set of family rules is an ideal way to give vital consistency and expectations. Here are some tips for creating family rules.
Get everyone on the same page
Family rules benefit children, but are good for the entire family as well. When everyone agrees on, understands, and follows the rules, everyone benefits from the consistency. Additionally, children won’t be confused or receive mixed messages about their behavior. Talk as a family about the sorts of rules that would help everyone, and agree on consequences if a rule isn’t followed.
Be clear and realistic
Toddlers and preschoolers may not understand everything as well as older children, so start small and be realistic. Clear and easy-to-understand rules benefit children of all ages, so try and find family rules that leave no room for confusion. For example, “No shouting” might make a younger child think they can’t shout while on the playground. Instead, a rule like “No shouting in the house” is more clear. Have your child explain the rule in their own words so you’re sure they understand.
Post rules in common family areas
Having the rules written out and posted in an area like the kitchen or the living room will ensure that everyone remembers. Many families customize these postings based on a child’s age and reading comprehension as well. For example, a toddler may not understand the rule “Clean up your toys,” but can understand a drawing of a tidy bedroom.
Family rules should be enforced immediately, no matter who breaks the rule. This will show your child that rules are to be respected by everyone, and it will model appropriate behavior for your child. Additionally, praising your child for following the rules will help them get used to them, and will give them a sense of achievement.