A house without rules can be chaotic and hectic. Setting some basic house rules for kids will give your lives more structure, organization and peace. Not only this, but growing up in a household with rules teaches children respect, responsibility and other important social skills for later life.
Here are 10 tips to get you started with setting your own house rules for kids:
- Discuss Your Goals With Your Partner
Before you start to set up house rules for kids, you need to decide what your goals are. What is or isn’t working in your home? Is there a behavioral problem you’d like to address? Jot down some notes about what you hope to achieve.
- Hold a Family Meeting
Whether your children are at nursery, primary or secondary school, holding a family meeting to discuss the rules is a great way to let your children give their input and feel valued. This way, they are more likely to respect the rules, too. Ask questions like, “If you could make two house rules, what would they be?” Of course you might get something like, “Eat ice cream every night!” but you may be surprised at the insightful responses you receive.
- Post Your House Rules
It’s important for children to see the rules in a prominent place in the home, such as on your fridge. For younger children, you can draw simple pictures to demonstrate the concept.
- Promote Teamwork
Don’t forget that it’s important for a family to work together as a team. Instead of it being parents v. kids, talk about how you can all work together. Respecting each and every member of the family is the only way this will work.
Example Rule: “Respect other people’s things.”
Always ask permission first to borrow any item whether it belongs to a parent or a sibling. This helps foster communication and respect for others.
- Be Clear and Concrete
Children thrive on structure. They may protest their daily nap or claim they hate rules, but most children need and want rules to feel secure. Knowing where the boundaries are is one of the reasons you’re setting house rules.
Example Rule: “Do your chores.”
Chores teach responsibility at every age. Even your 2-year-old can do simple task like putting all the clean socks into a basket. Chores are to be shared by every member of the household. Find out more about Age-Appropriate Chores For Kids.
- Adjust for Ages and Stages of Development
If you’ve got a range of ages in your family, house rules for kids will vary, too. Reinforce with your children that each of us has rules that fit our age and ability.
Example Rule: “Parents determine your bedtime.”
Establishing a bedtime routine which is suited to your children at different ages is important. It may be a struggle, but you shouldn’t be sending your 2-year-old to bed at the same time as your 10-year-old!
- Set Inside and Outside Rules
Clearly establish with your children that some rules apply to only inside the house, and others for only outside. For instance, “No running” would only apply inside.
- Practice What You Preach
They may be house rules for kids, but you should be setting an example as an adult. Children watch your every move, so if they sense you aren’t on board, they will be less likely to comply.
Example Rule: “Put back what you take.”
If you use the TV remote or a game, you need to put it back. This helps foster respect for things that belong to you and others — and it applies to everyone in the house!
- Use Consequences and Praise
When a child acts up or doesn’t follow a rule, consequences need to be age appropriate. Equally as importnant though is to shower them with praise when they do behave well — and when they follow your house rules.
Example Rule: “Follow the rules or lose an item or privilege.”
This might involve a taking away favorite toy, video game or privilege like getting to staying up later on Saturday evenings. If children don’t have consequences, the whole process will unravel.
- Reassess Rules as Necessary
As you set house rules for kids, consider it a work in progress. As you start living by the rules, you may find that some don’t work well or others need to be added. Be willing to adjust!